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Comments to HGAC
by Jul Kamen
16 December 2011

I am writing in opposition to HGAC giving GHA the $25 million. Though I have written before, here are some additional points and documentation.

Learn Purchase Real Estate for Cents on the Dollar!

1) Joe Jaworski does not speak for Galveston.

Before his election to Mayor, Joe Jaworski published his "Unofficial Vision for Galveston" in the Galveston Daily News. 

In it, he said, quote: "Public housing numbers will diminish...".  Many people voted for him based upon that statement. 

Since then he has done nothing but lobby for the exact opposite, growing the numbers to include 1,000 additional mixed income units, despite continued vocal public opposition.

2) Galveston already has an oversupply of housing. 

According to the recent independent Housing Market Survey paid for with CDBG funds, Galveston has over 7,000 vacant units. We lost 20% of our population. We did not lose houses. In fact, many homeowners sold their homes at 50 cents on the dollar and left for safer locations, only to be bought up by investors who turned them into yet even more rentals. There are also now hundreds of additional low income tax credit units going in, also with HUD money.  We do not need federal money to further add to that oversupply, unfairly competing with the private sector that is already struggling hard enough to make a living, paying high property taxes, high maintenance costs in a coastal environment, and high multiple insurance policies in a high risk area--and having to offer even lower rents.

3) There is no requirement to finance GHA's "mixed income housing".

GHA signed a settlement agreement with Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) to:  "...immediately commence seeking funding from HUD to provide Replacement housing on a 1 for 1 the most expeditious manner" 

By insisting on their mixed income scheme, they have delayed their own rebuilding. Link to their agreement:

4) GHA has proven time and again that they cannot be trusted.
  • Prior to the storm, their projects were high in crime, trash, and poorly maintained, inspiring very little public confidence in their ability to manage.
  • They have refused to this day to supply the requested plan to City Council in return for the $25M, instead a board member publicly demanded "my $25 million unrestricted".
  • They knew funds were earmarked for construction only, yet they tried to get approval for "soft costs" anyway.
  • They applied to the State for 303 vouchers for Katrina victims, while a board member publicly claimed they were looking for only 3 families.
  • They sought the assistance of Federal Mediators to help build consensus in a community largely in opposition to their expansion plans. When the mediators told them they needed to listen to public comment, they tried to block the report from public view. Only after a formal request to and ruling from the Texas Attorney General was it released.
  • They claimed to City Council that their first 40 units at the Oaks would be for elderly.  They are not, they are open to anyone.
  • They refused to comply with requests from Planning to reconnect the streets at the Oaks to the surrounding neighborhood, and face the houses out.
  • They are being sued by homeowners at the Oaks for alleged insurance fraud.
  • They claimed they could not replace public housing with Section 8 vouchers. Nov. 2011 GHA did exactly that by converting 198 former public housing residents to Section 8. See GCDN story
  • They fired their Executive Director 6 months ago, and have not replaced him.
  • Their board includes an ex-felon with no experience. While it may be legal, is it wise?
  • They insist upon replacing public housing in the worst census tracts, concentrating poverty, segregating minorities, limiting access to good jobs and education, against HUD's own rules.

If the HGAC gives the $25 million to GHA, it is in effect stating that GHA is:
  • Exempt from the Laws of Mother Nature, (rebuilding public housing in a flood zone, in violation of Federal Executive Order 11988).
  • Exempt from the Economic Laws of Supply and Demand, (adding to the oversupply of 7,000 vacant units on the island, see Housing Market Survey)
  • Exempt from the Civil Rights laws (to affirmatively further fair housing, not concentrating poverty and not segregating minorities).
  • Exempt from abiding by the Will of the People (Galveston City Council's recent decision to not fund GHA's mixed income housing scheme with the $25 million).

And as an aside, please consider the current situation in Galveston:
  • No Permanent City Manager. Previous "City Manager of the Year" for the State of Texas was fired
  • No Permanent Police Chief
  • No Permanent Executive Director of Public Housing
  • No Economic Development Director
  • Port Director is actively looking for another job
  • Petition to recall the Mayor failed for lack of signatures, many claiming fear of retribution if they signed

Is this really the place you want to give $25 million of taxpayer money for public housing? I don't. Oppose the $25 million to GHA.


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