Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Dr. Ben Carson joined Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02) and Texas Workforce Commissioner Julian Alvarez III on Thursday to announce the designation of a new EnVision Center in Houston.
The EnVision initiative is the brainchild of Carson, and partners with local, state, and other federal agencies and organizations to create resource hubs for families and individuals who are homeless, unemployed, or in economic crisis.
The new Houston center is in partnership with Adaptive Constructive Solutions (ACS), a veteran-owned and operated company that assists veterans, foster youth, and other vulnerable residents in obtaining temporary housing and paid apprenticeships.
At the designation ceremony held at ACS in northwest Houston, Carson explained that EnVision Centers take a holistic approach to assisting people in need and serve as one-stop facilities for job training, education resources, and social services.
Carson also said that the name EnVision comes from the Bible. “Proverbs 29:18 says without a vision, the people perish.”
“We envision what is possible in people’s lives, and empower people to reach their greatest potential.”
The new Gulf Coast EnVision Center will partner with ACS, the City of Houston, the Department of Labor, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), and the Gulf Coast Workforce Board. Like the other 60-plus centers across the nation, the Houston partnership will provide services while seeking to cultivate Carson’s pillars of self-sufficiency: character and leadership, educational advancement, economic empowerment, and health and wellness.
Founded by Army veteran Nicholas Morgan, ACS is among the nation’s largest workforce apprenticeship sponsors and places clients in 18 skilled occupations across multiple industries.
Initially focused on veterans transitioning to civilian life, especially the homeless, Morgan worked with ACS Executive Vice President and USMC veteran Carlos Pulido to expand services to include assistance for foster youth and other vulnerable members in the surrounding community.
During his remarks, Pulido pointed out an American flag and flags for each branch of the armed services displayed in the ACS training hall. Under each flag is painted the names of those who have graduated from ACS programs and are now fully employed and independent.
Carson praised ACS for the kind of innovative thinking that is in line with his HUD goals of investing in the future of the country and creating self-sufficiency and independence.
“EnVision centers were derived from the belief that HUD’s true measure of success is not how many people we get into a program, but how many people we get out of a government program into a state of self-sufficiency.”
Former Navy Seal Crenshaw praised ACS for helping his fellow veterans and others through apprenticeships which he said were the kinds of government programs that work to give individuals agency, empowerment, and control over their own lives.
“Obviously, the best social program is a job. There’s purpose. There’s dignity in a job,” said Crenshaw.
Alvarez noted that in 2019 the Texas Workforce Commission named ACS as the Veterans-Friendly Employer of the year, “honoring the private-sector employers whose efforts to recruit and hire veterans have had a significant effect on the local workforce development area and across the state.”
He also highlighted several individuals who had been aided by ACS, including foster transition client Victor Adams, who had earned national and industry-recognized credentials “which connected him with a life-changing career in ironworking.”
“Designation as an EnVision Center, will allow ACS to now provide housing, shelter, and wrap-around services for homeless folks, job seekers, and veterans, providing them with exactly the support they need to be successful in their training and ultimately connecting them to lifelong, not jobs, but careers.”
Since the imposition of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Harris County and Houston have led the state in unemployment claims, and Houston’s unemployment rate currently stands at 9.6 percent, above the state average of 8.3 percent.
ACS president Morgan noted that the four major pillars emphasized in the EnVision initiative were a perfect fit for his organization.
“Economic advancement, educational attainment, health and wellness, character and leadership; all of you participating in an apprenticeship, you know that’s exactly what an apprenticeship provides.
“This EnVision program is perfect for us because it brings more partners to the table, and that will be very critical for our expansion.”
Carson praised the collaborative efforts and success he sees as he visits EnVision centers across the country and said the program illustrates the opportunities still available to individuals in the United States.
“It’s the reason that this nation remains the dream destination for millions of people throughout the world.”
Additional Texas EnVision centers are in Arlington, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, and earlier this month, Carson announced a new center in Lubbock.
Information on programs and eligibility is available at the HUD EnVision Centers website.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Holly Hansen is a freelance writer living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.