Among the flurry of in-the-works policies Mayor Turner announced yesterday related to reducing the number of homeless folks in Houston: some staffed bare-bones shelters consisting of at least a fence, a roof and a bathroom, either under overpasses or on private land. Just where would those be set up? The city says they’ll be looking for suggestions from city council members and communities of spots in their own districts where shelters and services might be a good fit. Per Rebecca Elliott’s report, Turner told the Chronicle this week that he thinks it’s “important for people who are saying ‘we don’t want them here’ to join in with us in helping to identify acceptable locations.”
Here’s a list of other plans floated yesterday, none of which yet come with an expected price tag:
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Scrounging for Change
The pale arrow pointing from W. Beltway 8 to Downtown in the map of Houston above is made up of census blocks recorded as more than 50 percent white, according to a post by Will Livesley-O’Neill for Texas Housers yesterday. The Austin-based nonprofit, which researches low-income housing policy around the state, published yesterday’s article as a followup to some previous posts about the mixed-income housing complex that HHA is planning for the site of its own office building on Fountain View Dr. in Briargrove. The demographic breakdown on the other 3 shades shown on the map, from lightest to darkest: 50 to 25.01 percent white, 25 to 5.01 percent, and 5 to 0 percent.
The map also marks the locations of existing Houston Housing Authority public housing developments as red stars, mostly outside of or skirting the majority-white census blocks; the proposed Fountain View housing site is singled out, tagged, and marked with a green star. Meanwhile, the black outline looping mostly around the majority-white areas is lassoing the market areas deemed strongest by the Reinvestment Fund‘s Market Value Analysis for the city.
Map: Texas Housers
Signs are now up along the feeder road of the East Fwy. near Gregg St., a reader tells Swamplot, announcing an impending construction project on the site where last year demolition crews removed 63 units belonging to the Kelly Village Apartments that had been left to decay after sustaining damage from Hurricane Ike. Scheduled to go up soon in its place is the $800,000 freeway-side park illustrated above, which was announced last year. The 3-acre site near the confluence of I-10 and Hwy. 59 will include a playground, jogging and walking trails, exercise spots, and a community garden.
Rendering: Houston Housing Authority
A Park at Kelly Village
COMMENT OF THE DAY: A BRIEF ANNOTATED HISTORY OF ALLEN PARKWAY VILLAGE’S DIRTY NEIGHBOR “Wow, I never knew there was a waste incinerator right in the Fourth Ward. Here’s a handy timeline:
Post-Civil War: Freed slaves construct their own neighborhood in the Fourth Ward.
1917: Camp Logan Race Riots are sparked off when a Houston policeman beats a black soldier in the Fourth Ward.
1920s: Gillette incinerator is built (PDF) right in the Fourth Ward.
1944: San Felipe Courts (today’s Allen Parkway Village) were built next to the incinerator. They were originally intended as public housing for the city (following a New Deal movement for public housing in the 1930s) but ended up being handed over to the defense department to exclusively house white WW2 veterans (PDF). The other motivation was to ‘clean up the slums’ along Allen Parkway for passing commuters.
1964: San Felipe Courts are desegregated following the Civil Rights Act and renamed to Allen Parkway Village.
1970s-90s: Developers advocated for APV’s demolition arguing that the public housing’s costs didn’t reflect the land’s ‘highest and best use.’ Meanwhile, the housing deteriorated due to neglect by the Houston Housing Authority and HUD. Residents organized and protested demolition leading to APV’s rebuilding in 1997.
Today: The city can now cash in by selling a plot of polluted land next to APV now that the Fourth Ward is gentrifying.” [Carpetbagger, commenting on The Best the City Can Get for Gillette; Not Jus Donuts’ Extreme Cakeover] Illustration: Lulu
MOM’S LETTER LEADS CITY TO RAZE DERELICT FIFTH WARD HOUSING Yesterday, this Komatsu finished the job that Hurricane Ike started, taking out 63 damaged units of the Houston Housing Authority’s Kelly Village Apartments at 1119 Grove St. in the Fifth Ward — and at least one of the residents is happy to see ’em go: “Lacrecha St. Jules,” who wrote a letter to the Housing Authority requesting that something be done, reports the Houston Chronicle, “spent plenty of sleepless nights worrying about her four children as drug dealers and thugs made themselves at home in [the] vacant buildings. . . . ‘It was dark, and there were rapes back there . . . It was a bunch of negatives, and I just wanted to turn it into a positive.'” North of I-10 and east of U.S. 59, the apartments, which showed up in yesterday’s Daily Demolition Report, date to 1930; the city says it plans to build an $800,000, 3-acre park in their place, with room for a jogging trail and garden. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: KHOU via Facebook
So these apartments might not have the same shimmery glamour as their namesake, Beyoncé Knowles. But the pop star and Houston native, moved by the devastation in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, did chip in with her sister, Solange, and mother, Tina — as well as Destiny’s Child co-star Kelly Rowland, St. John’s United, and Temenos CDC — to help provide housing for Houston’s low-income and homeless populations.
The 43-unit building (shown above) at 1719 Gray went up in 2007. Now, Temenos has laid out on its website plans for a second building — with almost twice as many units as the original — at 2200 Jefferson, less than a mile away on the east side of I-45.
There’s no mention whether Beyoncé is involved in Phase II. But there are renderings:
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Charged with providing affordable public housing, the Houston Housing Authority is pulling out all the stops. All 171 remaining houses from its failed “scattered sites” public housing program intended for low-income families will now be offered . . . to the public. At auction. Included: the home shown above, sporting a Hurricane Ike-era blue roof tarp. Plus: 3 vacant lots! Where did all these amazing properties come from?
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WHAT COUNTS FOR PUBLIC HOUSING IN HOUSTON The failure of the Houston Housing Authority’s “scattered sites” program has left the city agency as the proud owner of 174 vacant and decaying homes about town: “The houses, 365 in all, were purchased from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1987 and 1988. The agency upgraded the homes and opened them to public housing tenants as a way to provide rental houses to low-income families and eventually, a bridge for first-time homeownership. Since it began in the mid-1990s, the HHA program sold 191 houses, just over half. But in 2004, believing the houses would be more easily sold if renters weren’t living in them, they began moving tenants out. As of 2006, according to their records, 104 homes were still rented. Now, there are none. And yet, since 2007, just 27 houses have been sold – a mere dozen last year.” [Houston Chronicle]
Right on time for tonight’s public meeting, Swamplot’s “Bottom” of the Fifth Ward correspondent Vaughn Mueller sends in a bit of information about the proposed redevelopment of the Houston Housing Authority’s Kennedy Place apartments:
It is located in lower fifth ward, bounded by Bayou, Gillespie, Meadow and Baron streets. According to the HHA, it was built in 1982 but in its current condition, it looks reminiscent of a 1950-1960 1-story development. There is currently no central AC or heat in any of its 60 units.
In mid July a sign was put up out front describing the construction. Soon after, we received a notice of public meeting in the mail also describing the construction. The meeting is set for August 18th. The new development will contain 108 new apartments, 88 of which are going to be government assisted while 20 are going to be market rate.
The proposed site plan:
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