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Should There be
Regional Approaches
to Fair Housing?

by David Stanowski
27 July 2011

The GOGP originally made the argument that a regional approach to our Public Housing dilemma should be adopted in an article that we published on 20 November 2009. After being ignored by the last City Council, and then being upstaged by Mayor Jaworski's efforts to get HUD Assistant Secretary, Mercedes Marquez, to write a letter ordering the GHA to build everything on the Island, 20 months of debate on the requirement to adopt a regional approach have finally culminated with the chance to vote on a resolution at this week's Council meeting!!

Agenda Item 13 D: "Discuss and consider for action adopting a resolution that the City of Galveston prefers a regional approach to the location of new and replacement public housing rather than a concentration of public housing on the Island."
Requested by Councilmembers Beeton and Greenberg.

Learn Purchase Real Estate for Cents on the Dollar!

What is the justification and basis for a change to a regional approach?

1. HUD has acknowledged the need to adopt a regional approach to Public Housing in its Fair Housing Planning Guide as far back as March 1996 with the statement, "An affirmative, metrowide/regional approach to the HUD-assisted family housing programs is encouraged for States and a consortia of local governments (to include State-funded and Entitlement jurisdictions) in metropolitan areas."

2. The courts have recognized the need to adopt a regional approach to Public Housing in a long series of cases beginning with Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority in 1966 and more recently in Thompson v. HUD in 2005, because society must be sensitive to “the importance of location in determining access to opportunity”. Professor John A. Powell

3. One of the Complainants in the Conciliation Agreement, John Henneberger, actually admitted the need to use a regional approach, even though they didn't do it in the CA, when he said, “Should there be regional approaches to Fair Housing; Yes, there should.”
(see video below)

4. In GHA’s Five-Year Plan, adopted in 2011, it states that, “GHA will be the leader in providing affordable housing solutions throughout the County including the Island. The GHA also foresees a need to expand affordable housing initiatives beyond just the City of Galveston in the not so distant future.”

If they acknowledge this need, why aren't they implementing it starting with the 569 replacement units?

Since the Galveston Housing Authority demolished 569 public housing units damaged by the storm, the City now has a clean slate, so it can start over and transition to a regional Public Housing plan without the need to move people out of existing units.

Many of our studies have shown that the demographic profile of the City of Galveston does not offer the same opportunities for Public Housing residents to escape from a life of intergenerational dependency and poverty that is available in many areas on the Mainland.

Other cities in Galveston County can offer:

  • Higher job growth
  • More entry-level and low-skill jobs
  • Greater population growth
  • Lower crime rates
  • Lower poverty rates
  • Lower vacant property rates
  • Lower numbers of students qualifying for free and reduced lunches
  • Higher rated school systems
Many of the former residents of GHA Public Housing are now using vouchers, and have already chosen to relocate to the Mainland; why adopt a system that will FORCE them to return to the Island to receive benefits?

Why shouldn't the City Council finally make it official and embrace and promote a regional approach to providing housing opportunities? 

Readers will certainly find the comments by John Henneberger, the Executive Director of TXLIHIS, on the following short video "convenient" when he confesses that the parties who negotiated the Conciliation Agreement should have used a regional approach to resolve the Public Housing issue in Galveston. However, they were too hurried to do it right; to do it according to the Fair Housing Act, so they took the expedient route, and did it quickly instead of correctly! Ironically, their short cut has not yielded any new Public Housing units almost three years after the Storm!

Their decision, that they made in secret meetings, could dramatically alter the fate of this city for the next 50 years. These meetings were not open to anyone from the City of Galveston, but that is where they decided that it was acceptable "collateral damage" to saddle the City, and its Public Housing residents, with the same failed system that had burdened it for the previous 70 years. They tried to pay penance for their sins by allowing the GHA to spend unconscionable amounts of money on the new Projects.

However, even after justifying his actions, and those of his fellow "fair-housing advocates", and representatives of the State of Texas, Mr. Henneberger candidly admits that if someone files a lawsuit asking the court to overrule expediency in favor of long-term changes that will yield much better results, by ordering a regional approach; there will be hell to pay!

His remarks seem very fearful of the type of lawsuit that the GOGP is sponsoring that will ask the court to order the GHA to adopt a regional approach. After you hear what he has to say about our chances, hit the donation button right below the video and join the team! 


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