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by David Stanowski
29 March 2010

Here's What We Do Know:
Before Hurricane Ike, the City of Galveston made up about 20% of the population of Galveston County, but the City was hosting 88% of the public housing units, and 86% of the Section 8 
units in the County; 4 times its fair share. 
Where is the need for more? 

About 0.65% of the U.S. population currently lives in government-owned public housing projects. If the current population of this city is about 45,000; Galveston would be in line with the average with 45,000 x .0065 = 292 residents in public housing. The average household size in public housing is 2.2 people. Therefore, to bring Galveston in line with the average public housing density we need 292 / 2.2 = 133 public housing units! We already have 430; 3 times the national average!
Where is the need for more? 

Existing sites: 430 Units
Gulf Breeze, 1211 Moody, 199
Holland House, 2810 61st, 157
The Oaks, 4300 Broadway, 40
Scattered Sites                    34 

The GHA’s survey published in their October 2009 Master Plan said that ONLY 36% of the families who lived in the 569 units wanted to return, and some would be happy with a Section 8 voucher in lieu of a public housing unit! Therefore, the contrived need to build 569 public housing units to "bring these families home" is overstated by 365 units.

The GHA Redevelopment Plan shows that at least 80-90% of the 569 families that were displaced by Ike had incomes below 20% of Galveston’s median income level, but only 10% of the proposed replacement units are for people in this income bracket! Therefore, it should be clear that these 569 units are not really intended to
"bring these families home"; the GHA  just wants to be a developer that will fill up the units with who ever they want once they're built!

Some have claimed that the GHA MUST rebuild these 569 units due to an agreement with Lone Star Legal Aid; or they will be sued. However, the GOGP has repeatedly shown that the courts do NOT favor the re-concentration of public housing as LSLA wants to do, so the threat of a lawsuit increases dramatically by following the dictates of LSLA.

Some have claimed that the countywide plan proposed by GOGP is racist. The GOGP plan is based on the Thompson v. HUD decision in a lawsuit sponsored by the NAACP Legal Defense fund. Since this is the plan that the NAACP has demanded, how can the GOGP be racist when it is following their lead

Some insist that the housing projects must be rebuilt primarily on the same footprints to make it easier for a minority to be elected in District 1. How is this in the best interests of the GHA's clients who should be given the opportunity to live in better neighborhoods, in other cities in this county, that offer a chance at attaining self-sufficiency?

Some have argued that low-income minority residents are one of the greatest assets or resources of the City economy, because the flow of federal funds tied to each one of them is what allows our Poverty Industry to prosper. The claim that this practice is good for the City as a whole is belied by the fact that other cities, such as Dickinson, League City, and Friendswood show absolutely no desire to compete with Galveston for this business, and it is certainly the worst kind of human exploitation! 

Some have claimed that the 569 units MUST be built, in spite of all the reasons not to listed above, or the City will lose other federal funding. At the 18 March GAIN meeting, the City's Director of Grants and Housing, Sterling Patrick, was asked about this. He said that Council had no requirement to give GHA the money, or risk losing other funding!

Finally, the same kind of rumors have been floated about the petition to allow the voters of Galveston the opportunity to decide whether to spend tax money on public housing. At the same GAIN meeting cited above, Sterling Patrick said that the federal government considers many factors in any city when it decides how to allocate future funds, but there was nothing specific about petitions that automatically threaten any federal funding.

Many people believe that the GHA is the most important issue in this year's election. Since the future of the City will depend in large degree on whether or not we allow the old public housing system, what Star Parker calls "Uncle Sam's Plantation", to reestablish itself, or not; the future direction of the GHA is certainly in the top three!

The GOGP is still confident that either HUD or the federal courts will order the GHA to move to a countywide plan, as was done in Baltimore, as the remedy for Thompson v. HUD; but that could take 2-3 years. This means that the new Council, and especially the new Mayor, need to show some actual leadership when it comes to this City Agency.

The new Mayor will have the opportunity to appoint 3 Commissioners in June. Each candidate needs to spell out the type of people that they will appoint, and what their directions and guidance will be to the new Commissioners to get this Agency under control.

There is also the option of bringing the GHA inside the City bureaucracy where it could be managed as a department of the City under the direct oversight of the Council.

The Challenge:
It is now time for each candidate to step forward with their vision of how to dramatically reduce the influence that the Poverty Industry has on the GHA, and bring it under the control of the City Council, so that it follows a path that is good for all of the residents of this city.

Do you agree that the GHA should become a department of City government? If not, why do you think that the GHA will dramatically change course after decades on the present path? What will cause it to do so? In short; what is your plan to turn the GHA around?

The GHA's original plan was to win approval to rebuild the 569 units, and then move forward to develop an additional 1,500 units of mixed-income properties so that the GHA became "the largest developer in the City"; "building houses for everyone who lives on the Island". With their recent victory at 25 February City Council meeting, GHA will certainly be moving ahead with these grand plans. Do you support the GHA in its quest to become the largest developer on the Island?   

Mayoral candidates; tell us how your appointments of new Commisioners are going to make a real difference.

The GOGP will be happy to publish your responses, but we hope that you will also share them in meetings with the voters, during the campaign, in guest columns, and that members of the media will ask you to articulate your visions for them.

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