GALVESTON — The Galveston Open Government Project has added two plaintiffs to its lawsuit seeking to block the construction of public housing on the island.
In a motion filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Wednesday, lawyers for the group filed an amended complaint that added two Galveston residents to the lawsuit originally filed in early December.
Janet Lynn is a “disabled resident” of Galveston who the Galveston Open Government Project claims has been receiving housing vouchers from the Galeston Housing Authority since “approximately the time of Hurricane Ike.”
Like other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Lynn is claiming that the location of the island’s two planned mixed-income housing developments potentially harms her through segregation.
“She would like to be able to move into public housing, but not in the neighborhoods chosen by Defendants,” the complaint says.
“When the Defendants selected these sites in order to segregate impoverished minorities, it injured her, too.”
The complaint does not describe what disability Lynn suffers from, nor what her race is. Lawyers on the other side of the lawsuit have challenged the standing of another plaintiff, Bruce Munden, because his disability is not described specifically.
The second new plaintiff is Trysha McCardell, an African-American resident of Galveston.
McCardell, according the complaint, lives 10 blocks from the proposed location for the Cedar Terrace development.
“She would like to move into public housing and would do so immediately if it was available,” the complaint says. “However, she would like public housing to be in much better neighborhoods.”
The section of the lawsuit identifying the plaintiffs describes McCardell as a current resident of the neighborhood where Cedar Terrace is planned to be located. Her address, listed on the first page of the complaint, is an apartment on the 3600 block of Avenue K, south of Broadway.
“Building public housing in Ms. McCardell’s current neighborhood — a neighborhood that is already segregated — will further add to the segregation of the neighborhood,” the complaint reads.
A second motion filed by the Galveston Open Government Project on Wednesday attempted to argue for the standing of all the plaintiffs, which has been challenged for a variety of reasons by lawyers representing the local, state and federal agencies being sued.
The brief claims that the argument that the people named in the lawsuit are not qualified to sue because they are not current residents of Galveston’s public housing is too narrow that would prevent any person from suing over the housing plans.
“The absurdity of the rule Defendants want this Court to follow is revealed in what qualities the hypothetical plaintiff they would require has: a minority homeless person who qualifies for public housing yet does not receive those benefits in any way and only wants to live in Galveston,” the complaint reads.
None of the plaintiffs who are now involved in the lawsuit have claimed to be residents of the Cedar Terrace or Magnolia Homes at the time the previous developments were torn down in 2009.
On Thursday, Judge Gregg Costa invited the defendants to respond to the Open Government Project’s argument on standing by March 14. More filings, including defendants’ responses to a motion for a preliminary injunction that could halt construction at the sites of the developments, are due by April 7.