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Promise zone staffers, mayor say policy will keep federal money on East Side

Eastside Promise Zone officials reveal new policy.

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio City Council will hear a new policy regarding EastPoint on Wednesday. EastPoint is a four square mile area inside the Eastside Promise Zone designation that has $54 million in federal grants.

EastPoint staff said partnerships have already brought new businesses, higher property values and improved education to the area. Officials said graduation rates are up from 46 percent to 81 percent.

The Sam Houston High School principal credited the Eastside Promise Zone as the reason for the graduation rate increase.

"The goal is to make sure we put our kids in a position to be successful," Principal Darnell White said.

White's school falls within the Eastside Promise Neighborhood.Questions arose back in February after a News 4 San Antonio Trouble Shooters investigation story aired about the promise zone money not staying within the East Side.

An EastPoint spokesperson said a new policy was recently implemented that would require regional organizations to commit to spending 40 percent of their grant money within the zone and national organizations to commit to spending 20 percent within the East Side.

"We have a proposal that's going to go to HUD. We discussed that at a meeting last week related to the preference points for grants," Mayor Ivy Taylor said.

The city said even though the policy was new, there was proof programs that had been implemented within the Promise Zone had positive impact.

EastPoint staff said housing opportunities have improved and the median sales price for homes in Dignowity Hill have increased from $55,100 in 2012 to $158,210 in 2015.

"It's positive change. We've seen nothing but good things happen in this part of town and it's nice to be part of the change," homeowner Tito Carrillo said.

The city will outline the policy change at the council meeting on Wednesday. Local Promise Zone officials said they plan to propose the same policy on the national level.

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