If you’re confused about the Texas General Land Office’s position on the lawsuit aimed at blocking the construction of public housing in Galveston, here are the key points:

• An agreement, blessed by a federal court, calls for the reconstruction of 529 public housing units destroyed by Hurricane Ike. The agreement calls for about 145 units to be built in mixed-income developments. A group called the Galveston Open Government Project has challenged those developments in court.

• The rest of those 529 units — 384 or so — would be built on scattered sites.

• If the Galveston Open Government Project prevails in its efforts to block the construction of the mixed-income units, the fallback position would be to rebuild all 529 of the units on scattered sites throughout Galveston.

• The scattered sites cannot be in high-minority or high-poverty areas.

All that was included in an affidavit filed in the lawsuit by Jorge Ramirez, senior director of the General Land Office’s Disaster Recovery Division.

If you think he’s kidding, keep in mind that Texas has something like $3.1 billion in federal aid riding on this case.

Ramirez stated in the affidavit that delays caused by this lawsuit have already cost about $3 million. On top of that, further delays are costing $145,000 to $225,000 a month.

The Galveston Open Government Project is a private organization and can sue anyone it likes, including the federal and state governments.

But, most members of the current City Council were elected because they campaigned against the mixed-income developments. Some Council members seem to support this lawsuit, even at this late date.

It should be clear by now what a disaster this fight has been.

Does Galveston even have 529 blocks, neighborhoods or areas that are not “high-minority” and not “high-poverty”?

If not, does that mean some affluent areas will get two or three public housing units on scattered sites?

The last person to hold the title of permanent executive director of the Galveston Housing Authority, Stanley Lowe, argued against scattered sites.

He said housing authorities shouldn’t build on scattered sites for the same reason companies that operate apartment complexes don’t build apartments on scattered sites.

Scattered sites increase costs. Sooner or later, the money to repair them runs low.

As Lowe pointed out, that doesn’t benefit the poor people who need decent housing.

It also doesn’t benefit the neighbors who have to live next to properties that aren’t well-maintained.

Lowe argued that Galveston should put more — not fewer — units of public housing into mixed-income developments.

Few people bothered to listen.

This is what this lawsuit to block the mixed-income developments boils down to: If you believe this fight is worthwhile, you have to believe Galveston would be better off with 529 public housing units scattered throughout the island.

It’s nonsense.

(11) comments

Ted Wagner

Well, well, Heber....perhaps not intended, but you have just highlighted the absurdity of concentrating public housing, solely on a barrier island, where GOGP is arguing such actions violate fair housing standards.

Maybe, just maybe, the ultimate question today is not whether we're better off if all units are scattered throughout Galveston, but rather, how could such a flawed concept get this far.

There's been a series of misguided judgments/decisions that have gotten us where we are today. And it will take one step at a time to undo past errors, using some of the arguments you noted today, to rightfully place some of the planned units outside of Galveston.

Matt Coulson

Well, no surprises there, we knew this is exactly what Hebert would say. But I am surprised at the dark, veiled way he tries to scare people. If you don't roll over these people will be living next to you. So it's ok to put them in public housing, but not as your nehbors? That's old school progressive! Previous poster is correct walk it back one step at a time. Through all the threats and forecasts of doom. The way our mayor did not have the stones to do.

Norman Pappous

Let's get this straight...

If the courts find that the mixed-income developments violate the Fair Housing Act as alleged, the GLO is going to go to a plan that is even worse for the community, the GHA residents, and the GHA...

Do I have that straight?

"The last person to hold the title of permanent executive director of the Galveston Housing Authority, Stanley Lowe, argued against scattered sites.

He said housing authorities shouldn’t build on scattered sites for the same reason companies that operate apartment complexes don’t build apartments on scattered sites.

Scattered sites increase costs. Sooner or later, the money to repair them runs low.

As Lowe pointed out, that doesn’t benefit the poor people who need decent housing.

It also doesn’t benefit the neighbors who have to live next to properties that aren’t well-maintained.

Lowe argued that Galveston should put more — not fewer — units of public housing into mixed-income developments."

Bill Quiroga

Two years ago these candidates Tarlton, Legg, Robb and Rosen ran on the public housing issue, to fight it.
What’s it all about? Paraphrasing Mr. Taylor (Texas has something like $3.1 billion in federal aid riding on this case.)
The reason we are at this point is because of the two candidates running for re-election Tarlton and Robb. Both flip-flop on this issue.

Remember district five has the most concentration of subsidized housing on the island and if the GOGP wins the law suit the west end of Galveston will be the only part of the island that most, if not all of the 529 housing units can be built. “The scattered sites cannot be in high-minority or high-poverty areas.”

Thank you Tarlton and Robb!

Steve Fouga

Really? District 5 has a high concentration of subsidized housing? I didn't know that. Where is it?

Also, my understanding is that most of District 6 is considered unsafe for public housing, or too remote from medical care, grocery stores, public transportation, etc.

Susan Fennewald

Distric5 has the elderly public housing at Holland House (across from Randalls), and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit apartment complexes (about 500 units) at the west end of Heards lane. (Any district would be willing to accept Holland House as its share of public housing.)

I'm not sure that makes them the district with the most "subsidized" housing - but they certainly have some.

I don't think district 6 has any (except for the occasional section 8 house).

Susan Fennewald

Oops I forgot - the district 5 area south of Heards lane also has some of the current scattered site housing, and was, at one point, proposed to have more of the "scattered" site housing.

Steve Fouga

Thanks for all the info!

I still don't understand gltn_01's post, but at least that part of it is cleared up. Yes, Robb and Tarlton flip-flopped, but I still don't see how District 6 could end up with much housing. There is no transportation, and little medical and food.

George Croix

Scattering people breaks up voting blocks.
Hmmmm.
No.
Probably doesn't have anything to do with it.....

Ellen Morrison

"The scattered sites cannot be in high-minority or high-poverty areas."

Oh, the irony. The scattered sites can't be, but the "mixed-income" can be?? Can be rebuilt (with higher density) on the WORST tracts in the entire city???

And as far as increased costs... how much more can they cost? The units to be rebuilt at the sites formerly known as Magnolia Homes and Cedar Terrace were estimated at over $250K per unit quite some time ago (so I can guess the actual cost would now be higher).

And really, they're going to pull all the money back from the entire state of TX because this island isn't rolling over?

The whole plan is simply rotten to the core. Kudos to Elizabeth Beeton and Norman Pappous for remaining strongly against the GLO's plan.

Matt Coulson

Right on!

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