Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
Solutions not Excuses!
by David Stanowski and
28 December 2009
A recent headline in the GCDN proclaimed; “Experts Cast Doubt on Housing Philosophy”. The article claimed that a regional approach to Public Housing may not work in Galveston County. Nothing could be further from the truth! With only 569 families who might want to relocate from Galveston to North County, the task at hand should be much easier than it was in Baltimore where it involved 14,000 families.
The article focused on certain obstacles to making a countywide plan work. These are called Impediments in HUD regulations and court rulings. They are conditions that must be overcome to achieve “Fair Housing”; not excuses to continue the status quo.
The only real Impediment to a countywide plan is transportation. Government reports show 9.8% of County residents listed as living in poverty, but only 0.9% of all County residents using public transportation to get to work. This means that many Housing Authority clients own a car, and use it to commute. The County simply needs to develop a van service, or countywide bus system to accommodate those who do not own cars. Just a portion of the $88.5 million that would have been spent to rebuild the Housing Projects in Galveston will solve the transportation issue.
The vans or countywide bus system can connect to the park-and-ride lot in Webster giving Public Housing clients access to the entire Houston Metro area job market and its educational and training facilities. When the new League City park-and-ride lot is completed, it will be even more efficient.
(Park-and-Ride see page 6)
(County transit plans)
The article claimed that there are more entry-level jobs available in Galveston than in North County. Galveston does offer more opportunities in the hotel industry, because there were 5,151 hotel rooms in the City versus 1,792 in North County, and City hotels had revenues of $136.5 million, versus $27.5 million in North County, in 2008.
However, the City only did $533.0 million in retail sales from 498 outlets, versus $2.4 BILLION from 1,663 outlets in North County, while City restaurants had sales of $195.4 million from 280 outlets, versus $320.2 million from 585 outlets in North County, in 2008.
Total 2008 revenues from these three sectors were $865.0 million in the City, versus $2.7 BILLION in North County. With more than three times the revenues, North County could hardly be said to offer less opportunity for entry level jobs, and County jobs are less seasonal than those in the City.
The final Impediment listed was access to healthcare. The article failed to mention that UTMB already has 21 clinics in North County in addition to the 4C’s Clinic in Texas City. Others can be added, if necessary.
With something as simple as a van service for Public Housing clients, a countywide plan would be ready to go in a couple of months, and the new countywide Housing Authority can implement mobility counseling to offer former Housing Project residents a chance at new opportunities across the Causeway. Let’s quit inventing excuses, and move forward before federal agencies, or courts, order us to do so in ways that may be far less palatable than if we have control of the process.
North County 226,901