Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
by Jacquelyn Tarpy
01 October 2010
GHA’s original plan to rebuild the 569 public housing units, destroyed by Hurricane Ike, called for building about 75% of the new units on the original footprints, a practice that does not conform to HUD’s current guidelines, regulations, and statutes, as well as the latest court cases.
There is no absolute guidance on where these units will most likely be rebuilt, because the interpretation and enforcement of the rules governing public housing is the very definition of arbitrary and capricious. The best available evidence on the most likely placements comes from the rulings in the Westchester case which HUD appears to be using as their new standard for other communities.
Westchester is a county so the ruling governed the placement of public housing in their next lowest subdivision which was the municipalities within the county. Applying that principal to the City of Galveston, its next lowest subdivision would be the census tract.
The judge in Westchester ordered the County to place 84% of its new public housing units in municipalities where the percentage of the Black population was less than 3%, another 8% in municipalities where the percentage of the Black population was less than 7%, and the final 8% in cities where the percentage of the Black population was less than 14%.
If these same criteria are applied to Galveston census tracts, 84% of the rebuilt public housing units would be placed west of 99th Street (Census Tracts 7260 & 7261), another 8% would be placed in the two areas roughly bounded by 43rd and 57th Streets from Avenue S to Seawall (CT 7255), plus 69th and 81st Streets from Jones Drive to Stewart Road (CT 7257), and the final 8% would be placed in the areas roughly bounded by 43rd and 61st Streets from Broadway to Avenue S (CT 7253 & 7254), plus 59th and 75th Streets from Jones Drive to the north side of Offatts Bayou along Teichman Road (CT 7258).
Some may believe that 84% of the replacement public housing cannot be rebuilt west of 99th Street unless it is limited to areas behind the Seawall, such as near Evia, but the GHA’s original plan ignored federal floodplain rules, so building west of the Seawall will not necessarily be a problem. The argument will be that if the middle and upper middle class can live there, by elevating structures to meet the latest building codes, then members of the LMI class should be offered the same opportunity, if GHA builds to the same codes.
Another argument may be that most of the replacement public housing cannot be rebuilt in this area, because it is not served by public transportation. However, expert testimony in Thompson v HUD (Page 30, Footnote 103) made a compelling case that remedies must be found for transportation barriers in high opportunity areas. It would be very easy for whoever is controlling the fate of this city, whether it is HUD or Texas Appleseed, to simply demand that the City extend their bus lines out to their West End projects, or lose federal funding.
The GOGP maintains that the ideal solution for the City, and the residents of public housing, is to rebuild all 569 units on the Mainland in areas that meet the proper racial composition, are removed from the floodplain, do not add to this city’s housing surplus, and offer educational and economic opportunities that are unavailable in Galveston. Unfortunately, the Poverty Industry wants them all back on the Island, and on more or less the same footprints, while outside groups or agencies are more likely to insist on West End locations, if they refuse to consider Mainland placements.
Hopefully, residents of the census tracts mentioned above will join our effort to move to a countywide public housing plan that will locate any future public housing units in an equitable way throughout the Mainland areas of the County.
Do you want to find out what census tract you’re in? Click here:
Then click on the link on the census page that says “Enter a street address to find Census 2000 data”.
After entering your street address, click “Go”.
Your census tract number will be shown in a box on the next page. If you highlight your tract and click “Map It”; a map of your tract will appear!
2000 US Census City of Galveston:
Census Tracts 7240-7261