GALVESTON — A federal judge has issued a final ruling in a lawsuit that aimed to block the construction of two mixed-income housing developments on the island.

Judge Gregg Costa dismissed a claim that plans for the rebuilding of public housing in Galveston, in the form of two mixed-income housing developments, violate the federal Fair Housing Act.

In the complaint, Galveston resident Trysha McCardell claimed the plans perpetuate racial segregation in the city and fail to further fair housing in the ways required by the Fair Housing Act.

Costa ruled, however, McCardell’s argument could not stand because the Department of Housing and Urban Development properly approved of the demolition of the previous public housing developments in the city. McCardell’s lawyer argued that public housing could not be rebuilt in an area where it previously stood, if the demolition was not correctly approved.

In June, Costa signaled to the parties involved that he was going to dismiss the complaint, and the attorney for the Galveston Open Government Project asked for a final ruling so that the group would be able to appeal to a higher court. Costa also noted that the plans for housing met another requirement of the Fair Housing Act: that the number of public housing units built on the site is “significantly fewer” than what existed before.

The Galveston Housing Authority plans to build two mixed-income housing developments on the sites of the former Cedar Terrace and Magnolia Homes public housing developments.

The mixed-income developments will place 113 public housing units and 31 project-based voucher units alongside 138 market-rate apartments and town houses. 

The public housing units are meant to replace public housing that was torn down following Hurricane Ike. Before being torn down, Cedar Terrace, at 2914 Ball St., contained 139 public housing apartment units. 

Magnolia Homes, at 1601 Strand, contained 133 public housing apartments.

The plans to rebuild public housing have been surrounded by controversy for years, culminating in a lawsuit brought last December by group of island residents called the Galveston Open Government Project, as well as a number of individual Galveston County residents who said they opposed the housing construction for various reasons. During the course of the lawsuit, most of the plaintiffs were dismissed from the complaint for a lack of standing, leaving only McCardell, who claimed that the construction of public housing units would have a detrimental effect on the neighborhood she resides in.

During court proceedings in June, Costa indicated to attorneys that he was inclined to dismiss McCardell’s Fair Housing Act claim. Later that month, the Open Government Project asked the court to reconsider parts of an earlier dismissal of a preliminary injunction. The defendants subsequently asked for a summary judgment on the final remaining count that Costa had left pending in June. The Open Government Project opposed that request, despite its lawyer’s previous indications that it wanted such a judgment.

Costa’s ruling Wednesday granted the summary judgment and refused to reconsider his previous ruling on the injunction.

The Galveston Housing Authority expects to finalize financial agreements this month that will allow construction developments, now renamed The Cedars at Carver Park and the Villas on The Strand, to begin later this year.

 

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com. Follow him on Twitter, @johnwferguson.

(13) comments

Raymond Lewis

This pointless law suit was a bigger waste of tax payor dollars than any public housing on the island has ever been. GOGP, led by David Stanoski, led some knowing individuals (and their dollars) down a one way sewage drain.

YeaRight

Its simple, the storm washed all the remaining ghettos onto the mainland and Galveston doesnt want them back. I dont blame them. Just look at Texas City, LaMarque, and Hitchock. Who wants to live around that by choice?

Stephani Hunt

Can't wait to welcome the Villains at the Strand to the East End. Just what the neighborhood and tourism industry needs. [sad]

Raymond Lewis

Those of us who don't want to live on the island with public housing residents have plenty time to move!

Tamala Robinson

I understand that The Woodlands, River Oaks, Tiki Island, Jamaica Beach....... all have crime. This is why we have law enforcement. If you are so scared and can't stand to live in or around the upcoming, newly developed housing units then move elsewhere. This is your own personal issue regarding race, poor or middle class, gender.... Nobody forced you to move where you are and Cedar Terrace housing unit would still be there if it were not for mother nature. Everybody has a choice. One person or one group of people can't speak for all of the taxpayers. Just as some communities have standards for homeowners and the upkeep of their property (Homeowner's association), so should the government and managers who run the housing units. Standards should be put into the contracts. Keep it clean, no drugs, no broken down cars past a certain time, no loitering, no loud music, no kids running around after a certain hour........ Whoever can't and won't follow the rules will and can be evicted. Every human beings should be afforded fair, nice housing along with the basic human necessity to live. So, for those on your high horses, please ride off into the sunset and start your own community of people that you think is fit for you to live in and around. P.S. You never know when one those folks might have to come to your rescue![beam]

Steve Fouga

TAMALA says: "Standards should be put into the contracts. Keep it clean, no drugs, no broken down cars past a certain time, no loitering, no loud music, no kids running around after a certain hour........ Whoever can't and won't follow the rules will and can be evicted."

Exactly! If it were like this, I would have no objection to public housing on the Island. It would be better than much of what is already here.

Ellen Morrison

Standards are in the contracts.

Enforcement is the issue.

Jose' Salinas

I'm not sure how many of the bloggers actually lived in one of "the Projects", but I did. It wasn't perfect but it was better than what they became. MANY young men & women have moved on to better lives in their communities.
What I remember back then, was that the tenants were held to a higher standard of responsibility. We cut on own yards, were expected to keep our apt clean & maintain the peace. It was not uncommon to have the project manager show up, late at night, should the police had to respond to any violation of law, including fights, drinking, etc.
If she showed up, you can be sure, it was long before the tenants were out. Also, the apts. were a stepping stone to self independence, not a home for life.
I fault past GHA, for as they became full of bureaucracy, they allowed the projects to be the failure that they were.
Only good management will result in good neighborhood projects.
Also, why has no mention been made as to the Oleander Homes site & what plans are in store for that area.

Dwight Burns

Sad, many posting here could care less about the reality of living in a restricted environment as you described, their only thought is hated for those who are a little different (economically) then themselves.

Steve Fouga

Speaking only for myself, my "only thought is hat(r)ed for those who are a little different (criminally)" from myself.

I have no sympathy for poor -- or rich -- criminals. None.

George Croix

Hurry up and BUILD!!!

Maybe I'll get lucky and the transplants next door will move 'back home' where someone else can continue to support their desire to be supported....

George Croix

"...their only thought is hated for those who are a little different (economically) then themselves."
That's an astonishing statement.
Care to back it up, or just let it ride as personal opinion hyperbole?

You know, it IS possible to not like what people do, or how they act, or the advantage they take of others, without 'hate'.
Do you 'hate' me for disagreeing with you?

Jarvis Buckley

The Mayor and council better give the police chief his requested funding for more police officers.
If you think the seaweed effects revenue, get ready a storm is coming.Hurricane Crime.!!!!!!!

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