Shape Community Center gets new lease on life

HOUSTON - A deal has been worked out to keep the doors of a popular Third Ward community center open.

SHAPE has been an institution in Houston's Third Ward for more than 40 years, providing after-school programs, senior activities and food pantries. The community center was recently sold at auction to pay off an unpaid $82,000 debt on leased copy machines.

A court temporarily stopped the property transfer while the nonprofit tried to find a way to save their center. On Friday, a deal was reached and SHAPE supporters celebrated on the courthouse steps.

The gathering was scheduled as a support rally, but an announcement by attorney Ben Hall turned it into a victory celebration.

"Today we were able to work out a compromise in the litigation that ended the lawsuit, returned the property to SHAPE," said Hall. "SHAPE provided to pay any money to pay off any debt."

The deal was made possible with help from Pat O'Connor. O'Connor is a property tax consultant whose company put up the $80,000 needed to settle the debt.

"It's really the heart of the black Houston community," said O'Connor. "We think it's a very worthwhile organization, and would like to see its work continue."

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