Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
Are You Really a Partner?
by Jacquelyn Tarpy
12 July 2011
An Open Letter to Galveston City Council,
The GHA said that they want you to be "partners" in the rebuilding of public housing, however, before you agree to this "partnership", and before you hand over any taxpayer dollars, you may want to review the way GHA has treated the City’s elected officials over the past year and a half.
On February 25th, 2010, the City Council approved Ordinance 10-021 supporting GHA’s plans to build 40 units of “elderly only” public housing at Oaks IV.
However, in GHA’s March 29th Rebuilding Plan, they decided not to apply to HUD for the elderly only classification and switched the 40 apartments to family units.
Did your GHA "partners" discuss this change with you?
Also, on February 25th, the City Council agreed to set aside $25 million of the City’s recovery funds to help GHA with the "hard costs" of rebuilding the 569.
However, now they are asking the city council to release this money for "soft costs". Yet, according to the April 25th GHA minutes, the agency is seeking approval from HUD to use insurance proceeds for predevelopment "soft costs".
Has GHA given you an update on this request? Why don't you just wait until they can use their insurance money?
On October 28, 2010 the City Council adopted Resolution 10-053, at the insistence of the TDHCA, supporting GHA’s rebuilding of the 569 PH units on the condition that within 180 days GHA would present detailed plans for the rebuilding, to the Council.
However, GHA ignored the April 1st deadline. When this was exposed by the GOGP, GHA came up with a litany of excuses.
It is now the middle of July and they still don’t have detailed plans!
On February 2, 2011, GHA passed Resolution # 2503 outlining their most recent rebuilding plans which included Oaks IV, scattered sites and mixed income developments. The mixed income would have 1/3 PH, 1/3 Tax Credit & 1/3 Market Rate.
However, according to the June 21, 2011 Rebuilding Plan “Preliminary market studies suggest that the “market rate” units may also need to be subsidized using CDBG recovery funds due to the current weak housing market in Galveston”.
Therefore, all mixed income units will have to be subsidized by the taxpayers!
The Oaks homeownership development has been touted by GHA & G.R.A.C.E. as a wonderful success.
However, the Oaks residents have a very different story. On June 9, 2011 several of the Oaks homeowners spoke before the Galveston City Council recounting the nightmare they have been through over the past two years, trying to get GHA to properly repair their storm-damaged homes.
Has GHA made repairs to any of these homes or provided the Council with any of the requested documents?
On June 22, 2011, GHA, on the advice of their counsel, informed the City Council that any request for agency documents must now be submitted through an ORR.
Is this the behavior of an agency that wants to be a "partner" with the City Council, especially when a GHA Commissioner tells a Councilmember at a Council Meeting “Give me my $25 million dollars with no restrictions?”