Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
by David Stanowski
24 July 2012
The newspaper account of the Galveston delegation’s trip to Washington, DC was no surprise to the GOGP.
The goal of the Poverty Industry has always been to enrich its members while they return the favor by offering generous campaign contributions to the politicians who maintain and expand their programs. Using poor people as pawns is how they achieve this goal.
This was a meeting with political appointees at HUD who have orders to keep the gravy train running. The good news is that they made no attempt to hide the fact that they have absolutely no concern for fair housing; all they want to do is to force more units to be built which will benefit their industry. That's where the big money is!
Even though many fair-housing studies show that the portability of tenant-based vouchers offers the best chance for Public Housing clients to escape from a life of poverty, they are a third-rate deal for the Poverty Industry. Vouchers may allow some local landlords to fill up vacant units and collect more rent, but building has always been where the BIG MONEY is.
The False Promise of the Mixed-Income Housing Project
The previous GHA Board has already paid out $2.7 million in soft costs to further their mixed-income development scheme, and they haven’t even begun construction! MBS is lined up for an additional $11+ million development fee on top of that. This is very serious money compared to a landlord getting $750 per month for a Section 8 unit, which is why we could not imagine that the Poverty Industry Czar would agree to go from building 717 mixed-income units to 529 portable vouchers, no matter how well-intentioned the City's plan.
Part of the corrupt political deal that has always been at the bottom of this rebuilding effort is the need to trap GHA clients in the City of Galveston; often in its worst neighborhoods. Offering them the opportunity to live elsewhere isn't what the Industry wants. You'll have to develop your own theory as to why this is so.
The fact that both HUD, and the State, acting currently through the GLO, continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that building any more Public Housing in this city will violate the Fair Housing Act is beyond outrageous! Both of these agencies are not only ignoring this issue, they are pushing the City to violate the law, and threatening a variety of sanctions if they don't. The entire process smacks of something out of a totalitarian regime rather than a country governed by the rule of law!
Now that the Galveston delegation has confirmed that HUD has no interest in discussing portable vouchers, they have time to hire a fair-housing lawyer and prepare the demographic arguments showing why it is impossible to build additional Public Housing in this city and Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). What HUD wants the City to do is return to a 1950s-era segregation plan, so City government needs to create a report that demonstrates that fact in no uncertain terms. After that, they can take this information to Congress and the media to expose what HUD is actually trying to force this city to do.
The second part of this process is to show HUD and the GLO how a regional plan will allow the GHA to AFFH, and ask for their help in implementing it. The GOGP has already prepared those arguments, and they are available for use by the City. The Poverty Industry wants to BUILD, so it may be necessary to show them why they cannot lawfully build in this city and then present alternative locations where they can do so. It’s all about building!
The City of Galveston is most fortunate that the majority of the members of the current City Council campaigned on the promise not to build any additional Public Housing, in the City, and to fight the Conciliation Agreement. Yesterday’s meeting made it clear that the touchstone of this whole process continues to be the Conciliation Agreement, so it is now time to begin that fight by demonstrating that units cannot be built in this city, and still AFFH, which this Agreement requires.
The Fair Housing argument allows the City to maintain the moral high ground and also puts it on very sound legal footing.
The new GHA Board can present HUD and the GLO with a plan that will integrate Public Housing residents into high-opportunity neighborhoods throughout the County, or even the entire HGAC region, to challenge their 1950s-era segregation plan. If HUD still insists on implementing a segregation plan, the voters have the expectation that the new GHA Board, and the current City Council, will take the fight as far as they need to, including federal court, if necessary, and make the fair-housing argument to a judge.
The City must remain determined and steadfast, because there is no doubt it can win this argument!