A local youth group will help with a campaign in the coming months to make sure more homes and businesses in Houston are equipped with address numbers and comply with a city ordinance.

In response to a widespread need for address numbers on homes and businesses in Houston, the Houston Community Betterment and Arts Council has teamed up with the Houston High School Y.O.U.T.H. group (Youth Organization Understanding Tomorrow’s Houston) to help address the situation.

Houston Police Chief Tim Ceplina said close to half of all houses and businesses within Houston city limits have barely visible address numbers or none at all. That’s technically illegal. According to the City of Houston ordinance No. 18-18, numbers at least three-inches tall must be visible.

Why does it matter? Emergency response personnel rely on address numbers to arrive where they need to in the most timely manner possible.

“When you need emergency responders, you need them,” Ceplina said. “You don’t want them having a hard time finding you.”

With financial support from the Community Betterment and Arts Council and donations from homeowners, former Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell will lead the students on Saturday, Jan. 7, in making an assessment of homes that need numbers. More than 15 Y.O.U.T.H. members are expected to survey the city in groups, determining which houses and businesses need attention, and collecting data including the color of the house or business building, curbing available for numbers and the total quantity of numbers needed.

“The police department was excited to hear that former chief Jim McNiell has spearheaded a project with the Community Betterment Y.O.U.T.H. to undertake placing house numbers on several homes that are currently unmarked in our community,” Ceplina said.

Along with McNiell, student participants will be assisted by personnel from the Houston Police Department, Texas County Sheriff’s Department, City of Houston Fire Department and Houston Rural Fire Department. Homeowners and businesses needing the numbers are requested to help with the expense by contributing at least $5.

After the initial survey, participants will meet on Saturdays in April to secure numbers for each address. Numbers may be painted on the curb in front of a given house or business or secured to a building or other object that is readily visible to firefighters, ambulance crew members and other emergency responders.

“This is necessary not only for identification of the home for the post office, but for emergency service personnel,” Ceplina said. “Our officers have searched for addresses more times that I can recall, and quite often, time is essential. Not only do we respond to service calls as law enforcement, but often in assistance of the fire department and ambulance crews.

“If you have a fire – the likelihood of which increases this time of year – you want the fire department there quickly. Similarly with an ambulance crew – seconds matter when a loved one is having a heart attack or bleeding. Our officers often arrive on scene prior to the other emergency services and help them locate the residence.”

For more information, call Ceplina or Community Betterment representative Elaine Campbell at 417-967-3348.

“The Houston Police Department wholeheartedly backs this program and the initiative of Jim McNiell and the Community Betterment Y.O.U.T.H., and we will do everything we can to assist in this important program,” Ceplina said.

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