Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
"Real" Mixed Income?
by David Stanowski
15 September 2014
Recently, we were told that the GHA is building “real” mixed-income projects, because they will not violate the Fair Housing Act. (Herz speaks during mixed-income housing ground breaking ceremonies)
Here are the facts on Cedar Terrace:
1. All public housing units should be built in census tracts with poverty levels of less than 10%. Cedar Terrace is located in a census tract with a poverty level of 61%; the poorest census tract in the entire County! Not even close!
2. The combined number of public housing units, and project-based vouchers, should be less than 20% of the total number. The GHA plan calls for 51% of the units to be either public housing units or project-based vouchers! Not even close!
Poverty levels of 20% are considered “high poverty”, so common sense dictates that any development should NOT begin by "locking in" a very high poverty level (51%) with its unit mix.
Tom Cousins built Eastlake Village, in Atlanta, and is considered one of the pioneers of mixed-income development. He said "….a lower mix of public housing units will result in a stronger and more stable community...". "At a 50-50 mix we have found that the problems inherent in a low-income environment can easily overpower the strengths of a middle-income community." (Tom Cousins Testimony)
Therefore, the GHA is building mixed-income in an unacceptable neighborhood AND with far too many subsidized units. This is NOT good for the public housing residents or the City.
Dr. Robert Ellickson's review of mixed-income projects found "...building mixed-income subsidized projects is a mediocre policy approach." "It has blossomed primarily on account of the political influence of those who gain from supplying these developments." "... politicians all have learned that having the power to influence project approvals can provide leverage to raise campaign contributions." (The False Promise of the Mixed-Income Housing Project)
Michael Allen claims that this project is "real mixed-income", because the GHA is building "no more than 50% of the public housing units previously existing", but that is ONLY ONE of the criteria required under Site and Neighborhood Standards (CFR 905.602(2)(d)). Mr. Allen is the attorney representing the Austin Advocates and is merely supporting what they want. He is NOT an independent fair-housing expert. Dr. Kirk McClure found that that this project does NOT AFFH, and that it would NOT be successful, i.e. fill its market-rate units!
Clearly, this mixed-income project fails the most basic fair housing criteria, EVEN IF the market-rate units are kept filled. The GHA says that the market-rate units are protected by covenants that will not allow vouchers to be used in them, so what are they going to do when they cannot find 59 middle class families who want to live in VERY HIGH poverty? Are they going to leave them vacant?
"Neighborhoods of concentrated poverty are typically marked by high crime and unemployment rates, health disparities, struggling schools and faltering civic institutions." (Testimony of HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan)
In short, this touted mixed-income project will simply add to the already high level of concentrated poverty, crime and other social problems in this city! It provides no benefit to anyone except the Poverty Industry!