Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
Statements Versus Facts:
by Jul Kamen and
19 November 2010
On November 12, 2010, PBS Channel 8, in Houston, hosted a panel discussion on Galveston's public housing. The participants were Mayor Joe Jaworski, GHA Chair Paula Neff, and GOGP president David Stanowski.
Many statements were made regarding various aspects of public housing: why we need it, who lives in it, who pays for it, and what type offers the best solution. Although this was not a debate, many of their remarks need clarification.
This is the second in a series of articles to examine these statements against the facts.
1) We will paraphrase the panelist's statement.
2) Give the exact location on the video where the entire statement can be found.
3) Provide the facts regarding that statement.
The reader can then judge for themselves the validity of the statement against the facts provided.
“Public Housing puts a great burden on the City services, police, fire, EMS and the public school system.” For the entire quote, slide the cursor beneath the video to 3:50 minutes.
“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 video to 6:40 minutes.
“We asked the Galveston Police Department to run a years worth of data, a year prior to the hurricane, on the footprints of the prior housing projects in the City, and they came up with 20% of the crime was committed in those footprints and it has about 3% of the population.” For the entire quote, slide the cursor beneath the video to 11:50 minutes.
The GOGP requested the Galveston Police Department crime data from September 01, 2007 to September 01, 2008. The following data is for the police grids containing the four public housing projects and the surrounding area.
Case reports count everything logged in as a crime.
Cedar Terrace, police grids 43 and 48,
453 case reports
Palm Terrace, police grid 60,
569 case reports
Magnolia Homes, police grids 15 and 17, 270 case reports
Oleander Homes, police grids 74 and 75, 1,266 case reports
Total for the areas containing and surrounding the four Housing Projects, 2,558 case reports.
Total for the City of Galveston, 12,018 case reports.
21.28% of all case reports in the City of Galveston were for the areas containing and surrounding the four Housing Projects.
There were 569 housing units in the four Housing Projects, and typically there are 2.2 people per unit. This means that 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 used a highly disproportionate share of police resources and expenses!
This project was undertaken to quantify the proportion of police resources and expenses that were used to service the four Housing Projects during the year prior to Hurricane Ike. The seven police grids that were used do not produce precise data, because they do include some areas outside of the Project grounds; but it is the best measurement available.
The fact that the GHA owned and operated Housing Projects were a crime problem should come as no surprise to anyone, especially GHA. The Executive Summary of their 2008 Plan stated:
“The struggle to maintain crime-free properties in Galveston requires constant vigilance. GHA has used operating funds for police services over baseline because the use of Capital Funds for physical improvements is crucial to its ability to maintain its properties. However, the money available for police services from operations is only around 25% of that provided through the former PHDEP grant and it is insufficient to manage the crime level on and around GHA’s public housing. Unfortunately, without a comprehensive policing program, problems that were once dealt with reoccur as felons return to their previous neighborhoods from prison. The drug crime causes fear in residents, high turnover and collection loss, property damage, a high volume of trash on the grounds and management turnover."
On October 05, 2010 Chief Wiley was asked by the GCDN to comment on the City's current crime rate. He said, "Crime is at an all-time low the last two years compared to the last 30 years of collected crime data."
Readers are free to draw their own conclusions as to why the City's crime rate has declined so dramatically since Hurricane Ike.