The Edinburg Housing Authority (EHA) hosted their first Strong Families event on June 8. EHA families gathered together to be part of the Strong Families initiative.

The Strong Families 2018 event was introduced by Executive Director Rodolfo “Rudy” Ramirez and Director of Operations Elizabeth Hernandez. Special guest Dr. Zavala from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) joined the EHA and discussed the importance of literature in the upbringing of children.

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Strong Families event was an initiative focused directly to empower families and to provide them with access to local resources while they enjoyed of the fun activities. The resource fair offered the residents the opportunity to connect with local businesses, organizations, institutions and more. Also, with the help of partnerships between Book-Rich environment (BRE) and ConnectHome USA, the EHA was able to help families connect and benefit from the programs.

In hopes to make our community a “book-rich environment,” EHA was selected by HUD as a local partner to implement the Book Rich Environment (BRE) program. The Book Rich Environments program is a collaboration between the National Book Foundation, the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, the Urban Libraries Council, and the National Center for Families Learning, which works with publishers to secure hundreds of thousands of free books to send across the country. EHA had its first book distribution for residents at the Strong Families family event. With donating publishers such as: Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Workman/Algonquin, Candlewick, and Scholastic donated thousands of books to selected public housing agencies across the nation, South Texas Literacy, UTRGV, and the Dustin Sekula Memorial Library.

The EHA is one of the two housing authorities in the state of Texas that has partnered with ConnectHome USA. Their aim was to help their residents benefit from many educational and professional opportunities that come from obtaining high internet services in their homes. ConnectHome USA was developed by the White House, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and its nonprofit partners and EveryoneOn, the main purpose of its launch was to give internet access to families living in public housing units to improve the quality of their lives. EHA’s partnership with ConnectHome USA enabled AT&T to participate in the Strong Families event to offer low cost internet services for the residents in hopes to narrow the digital divide.

Participants from UTRGV, Driscoll Health Plan, BRE, AT&T, South Texas Literacy Coalition, Youth Breeze, and Edinburg Police Dept. (amongst many others) joined the event and provided many activities for the children.

“At the event, the residents had the opportunity to access public services at accessible prices. They also enjoyed an afternoon of games and interaction with other residents and EHA staff,” said Cruz Matos

The Strong Family initiative was a success thanks to EHA’s partnerships with BRE and ConnectHome USA, along with the many wonderful participants that were part of the event.

The EHA is hopeful that they will host another Strong Families event in the future to offer more local resources and to better serve their residents.