Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
Mixed-Income and Crime?
by David Stanowski
31 October 2011
It is a well-established fact that crime rates tend to be high in and around Public Housing Projects. This seems to be true no matter where they are located around the country.
The GHA acknowledged this problem with regards to the family housing projects that they managed before Hurricane Ike.
In the Executive Summary of their 2008 5-Year Plan, GHA Executive Director, Harish Krishnarao, said, "The struggle to maintain crime-free properties in Galveston requires constant vigilance."
"Unfortunately, without a comprehensive policing program, problems that were once dealt with reoccur as felons return to their previous neighborhoods from prison."
A GOGP study of crime data from 01 September 2007 to 01 September 2008 (i.e. Before Hurricane Ike) found that 21.28% of all case reports (crimes) in the City of Galveston were for the areas containing and surrounding the four Housing Projects. The total population of these four facilities was approximately 1,252, or 2.20% of the pre-Ike population of the City. It should be clear that with 21.28% of the case reports, the areas containing and surrounding the four Housing Projects accounted for a highly disproportionate share of the City's total crime!
The only person that we know of who is unconvinced that Public Housing creates a crime problem is Mayor Joe Jaworski! He stated, "I don’t know that anyone has shown me detailed statistics that say it is (crime) because of Public Housing tenants.” For the entire quote, slide the cursor beneath the PBS video to 6:40 minutes.
Apparently, nearly everyone agrees that Public Housing creates a crime problem, but what we don't know is whether the new mixed-income social-engineering experiment has the effect of reducing crime. We just cannot determine where the truth lies.
GHA's master developer, McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), told the City that they have no crime in their mixed-income developmemts, but GHA hired two professors from Georgia State University, in the summer of 2010, who have a very different opinion! In a document obtained from GHA through the Public Information Act, Dr. Deirdre Oakley and Dr. Erin Ruel write, in the section titled "Crime and Public Housing":
"Public housing has long been associated with crime. One of the arguments against rebuilding is that it will bring crime back into the city. In our analysis of crime and traditional project-based public housing in Atlanta, we have found something rather intriguing. Specifically that crime, both non-violent and violent, is actually more pronounced in the new HOPE VI mixed-income redevelopments than in the traditional public housing. Much of this has to do with crimes of opportunity (there will be more opportunity in the mixed- income developments)."
GSU Report to GHA see Page 4
This seems to say that in their study of mixed-income developments in Atlanta, they found that crime was higher than in traditional projects, where all the tenants were Public Housing residents, because mixed-income developments include middle class tenants that offer those Public Housing residents who are inclined to break the law, better "targets of opportunity" than neighbors who are law-abiding Public Housing residents.
It is impossible to tell from this limited report (see link above) whether the study included the mixed-income development in Atlanta that GHA touts as their model for what they want to bring to Galveston; which is exactly why we need more information!
In Harish Krishnarao's email to the fair housing groups endorsing the GSU report, he says they are, "a group of independent analysts who are unbiased researchers". MBS may have a completely different opinion, but they are also in the business of building mixed-income developments while the professors are not.
A few weeks ago, I presented this report to the City Council during public comment, but the Council had no interest in looking at this potential problem, because there were four votes to let GHA proceed with their mixed-income experiment without any further oversight!
However, it is now time for Council to accept their responsibility and invite Professors Oakley and Ruel to the City to question them about the probability that the proposed mixed-income developments could actually increase crime, BEFORE they allow GHA to proceed with their mixed-income scheme.