Comment of the Day: Banking on Other People’s Fears

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BANKING ON OTHER PEOPLE’S FEARS Socioeconomic Segregation“. . . Housing preferences can be a multifaceted thing. However, when you look at patterns of socioeconomic segregation within society, yeah I would say that the evidence is damning . . . to society. (I do not have any policy prescriptions. I think that good intentions are too often and too easily co-opted by the powers that be.) At the very least, at the barest minimum, a significant enough portion of homeowners anticipate that the market moves on the premise of socioeconomic segregation that their anticipation of demand for segregation is itself what makes the market segregated. This is the polite premise underlying white flight, and it was as true in Riverside 50 years ago as it was 10 years ago in Spring and Missouri City and as it is today in various places I prefer not to call out by name in order not to be part of the problem.” [TheNiche, commenting on The End of the New Starter Home in Houston; A Marketing Campaign for Airline Dr.] Illustration: Lulu

29 Comment

  • You’re lack of knowledge on Riverside Terrace is typical of your posts. Do some research before you cast aspersions on a group. Also, it wasn’t 50 years ago dude, it was like 30-35. Maybe sit down and watch the documentary, This is Our House, it’s Not For Sale, maybe you’ll learn something…but probably not.

  • I have watched that movie, but it was a while back. And yes, I think that you’re right about the timeline but it really doesn’t matter. The argument is still valid.

  • Shannon as is customary with your bluster, it’s you who doesn’t know what you are talking about. Although some African Americans started moving in during the 1950’s, the neighborhood started changing in the early 1960s and become a majority African American area in the early 1970s . The movie you referred to was produced in 1985 ostensibly before you were born.(That’s 39 years ago if you need a math lesson). Gays started moving in during the early 90s. Now can you go back to casting aspersions on the minorities of Sharpstown ad nauseum?

  • Have folks read Ta-Nehisi Coates article on reparations? A big focus of the article is the was that FHA loans not being given to Black folks played in denying a generation of black people from participating in the economic benefits of home ownership that whites were able to through these loans. I learned a lot from it.
    While there is lots of components to white flight, I’m sure, there was also government and bank policy to exclude Black folks from home ownership that made it a “rational decisions” to leave neighborhoods that were becoming Black.

  • JT, you don’t need to give me a history lesson on RT, I actually know the guy who directed the documentary, I met him in LA, when I lived there, we met thru a mutal friend who knew we wee both from Houston. I grew up in Southampton and used to ride me bike over to RT, it was run down and ghetto then, it was sad to see what all those idiots had done to all those beautiful houses. I swear no one owned a fucking lawnmower or was too lazy to use it. The area to the south along OST and along Cullen was all bombed out drug dealing ghetto. You could always spot the original homeowners, not just because they were white, but because they looked like they gave a shit. I have lots of friends, (white) who have bought houses in RT, I’m happy this great old neighborhood is turning around and people who actually mow their grass and know something about historic renovation live there now. It’s funny because one of my friends lives down from Sheila Jackson Lee and they had to call the city to get her to now HER yard…too funny, but so typical

  • It’s you JT, who needs the math lesson –2014-1985 doesn’t equal 39. I lay not have a Ph.d in mathematics but I can subtract and I don’t agree that RT itself was was a majority black in 72, the area around RT has always been black, but RT was an affluent white progressive Jewish oasis. It’s absurd to assert that these progressive Jews were racist, my God their money and influence funded the entire Civil Rights Movement. You REALLY need a history lesson, you must have gone to Texas Southern

  • Shannon if you went to college it sure doesn’t show in your posts. On the other hand, at least Niche writes coherent sentences. Racist much?

  • And I assure you zero blacks moved into RT in the 50’s!!! Are you nuts!

  • Oh dear God please tell me we don’t have the same friend who lives by SJL. I think she had a car on blocks in the driveway the last time I was on that street. That notwithstanding, It’s a beautiful neighborhood with some topography and a great mixture of home styles but for the life of me I cannot figure out …well I have one theory…. why it has not turned around faster. Judging from the Heights, Greater Washington area and Oak Forest areas which more rapidly gentrified (with some quite sketchy neighbors/neighborhhoods adjacent, that doesn’t seem to stop people from buying in crappy areas. It’s just sad that so many houses are so far gone……..

  • …speaking of math lessons

    1985 was not 39 years ago

  • Excellent point, Niche. And thank you for noting that we have shifted from racial segregation to more of a socio-economic segregation. It’s still segregation, but I would argue it’s a step in the right direction. And it’s understandable. People want to live near people they can relate to. A professional wants to live near other professionals.
    It can lead to backwards urban patterns. People who live in Gulfton, provided they drive, have a much quicker commute to Downtown and Uptown than people who live in Fort Bend County. On its face that should be an advantage, but as it stands today, middle and upper middle class people wouldn’t think of living in Gulfton because of its ongoing reputation. They would rather a longer commute.
    But here’s the thing, and it underlies everything I post here: at some point new suburbs will reach a distance where they’re just too far out. The time it takes to commute will simply be too great for most people. This has alreadyhappened in the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. Unless we develop new ways of commuting, it will happen here, too. At that point, we can expect two things to happen. First, real estate prices will escalate. But second, people will have no choice but to set aside ther desire to segregate, and choose housing based on more tangible and (some would argue) valid things.

  • Ahhhh! The whiteness it burns!

  • @ ZAW: “Unless we develop new ways of commuting…” Color me optimistic.

    Besides which, although it is likely that inner-city housing prices will continue to become less affordable, it is also likely that job creation will take place at a disproportionate rate in the suburbs.

  • Y’all are right- apparently I do need some remedial math–can’t blame that on auto correct . I should know better than that.

    Shannon–I never made a statement about progressive Jews being racist so save that crap for a dinner party where you and your boytoys discuss the evils of Israel v. Palestine.

    from a 2009 article in the Houston Press.
    “A wealthy black cattleman named Jack Caesar and his family purchased a house in 1952. It was a contentious settlement from the beginning, as Caesar’s white secretary bought the home for him and transferred the title to the family, who moved into the house under cover of night. Such precautions were necessary, it turns out, as a bomb was detonated on Caesar’s front porch only a year later — a sign that the new neighbors weren’t exactly welcome.

    Despite this, Caesar and his family stayed put until the widening of Highway 288 occurred in 1959, which destroyed many of Riverside Terrace’s beautiful homes in the process — including Caesar’s. But by this point, the neighborhood had become predominantly African-American and white flight to the suburbs was in full swing. In the late 1960s, one last effort was made by the remaining white and Jewish families in Riverside Terrace who were being pressured to leave their homes not only by their neighbors’ departure, but also by real estate agents who wanted to earn commissions selling the expensive homes to black families: signs were erected in yards that read “This Is Our Home; It Is Not For Sale”.

    Of course, you could just watch your friend’s movie while you continue to subtly denigrate anyone not of your perceived pedigree.

  • Sally, uh could you be more predictable. You must adhere to John Willy Price or Quannel X definition of racist. We’re all tired of being labeled for pointing out the obvious. Frankly, I don’t find his posts all that coherent, but I don’t desperage his education. I agree that a lot of this is socio economic, but you can’t just ignore the race factor. JT, I highly doubt we know the same people, but if we did, I’d have the same reaction as you, probably even more visceral.

  • ZAW, it’s easy for progressive whites to dismiss the notion that race segregation still exists, they’re so quick to jump on the Socio Economic bandwagon, that’s more palatable to them and it glosses over all that ugly wugly racism. When you look at The Heights or Montrose or RT and you look at the new home buyers, what do you see? I see a lot of Anglos. Does that mean that blacks just can’t afford The Heights or Montrose? I’m really not sure, but I’m not so quick to explain it away and blame socio economic issues, like racism in housing doesn’t exist anymore–are you? How’s that Sally?

  • I saw a great NY Times interactive map years ago showing segregation across the nation using different colored dot to illustrate number of each race per acre.
    Data that is a bit dated, but still quite illustrative of our regions’ degree of racial diversity compared to other regions across the nation. Sure would be fascinating to see a similar graphic with respect to incomes. From a subjective point of view I don’t hold high hopes for the greater Houston region if such a graphic is out there.

  • Not sure my friends would like to be refered to as Boytoys–makes me think Madanna circa 1985 singing, Dress You Up In My Love…but I do like the Houston Press, yes, yes I do.

  • @Shannon: I find it interesting that you’re saying that, when you have expressed a firm belief that Sharpstown is and will always be a scary, awful slum. You actually make my point every time you do that – though I don’t think you mean to.
    What’s the difference between the Sharpstown area and Fort Bend County? Both are racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse. Fort Bend County has won awards for its racial diversity. Sharpstown has been called a neighborhood of the future: people say it reflects the racial diversity of America circa 2050. Fort Bend County, however, is fairly homogeneous in socio economic terms. For the most part they are all relatively well-off. Not Sharpstown. Sharpstown has middle class people, working class people, poor people…. And, as a result, people like yourself are scared of it.

  • Are you really competing Sharpstown to Fort Bend County? Ft Bend does not have Sharpstown’s sketchy history nor it’s reputation for gang violence and violent crime. The only thing they may have in common is racial demographics, I’ll just take your word for it. Who cares if Sharpstown reflects Houston in 2050, that really isn’t a selling point. Hey my neighborhood has high crime, horrid schools and is surrounded by sketchy areas but its demographics reflect Houston in 2050! I’d have more respect for your jingoism in respect to Sharpstown if you didn’t have a house you were trying to unload.

  • Comparing*

  • You made my point again, Shannon. You’re proud to live down the street from Sheila Jackson Lee, and yet you are deathly afraid of poor people who live in apartments around Sharpstown. Our segregation is based on socio-economics more than race!

  • @Shannon. Would bitchy bottoms be a better choice? And really, what is the point of trashing ZAW’s neighborhood at every opportunity?

  • I don’t live down the street from SJL, ZAW. You need to Reread my comment. So, I have no idea what you’re taking about. I live in Southampton, my friend lives in RT. JT, honestly, lose the homophobic BS, you probably don’t even know that bttm is and if you do, you probably are one. You’re right I don’t care for Sharpstown and I get tired of ZAW making it out to be Tanglewood so he can sell a house. I’d have more respect for his opinion if it were not so tainted by him trying to get over 150 for his house. I’d invest in The Heights, Eastwood, RT, First Ward etc, but never Sharpstown. Very few people care for middle class 50’s ranchers, it’s just a fact. Most appreciate the upper middle class mid centuries, in Meyerland, Tanglewood, even Garden Oaks. ZAW paints this picture of Sharpstown being Garden Oaks in 10 years, but knowing Houston I don’t see it. The Gulfton Ghetto and all those awful areas around Sharpstown continue to me awful and I don’t see that changing in 10 years. If Sharpstown has the great old bungalow’s of The Heights or even the great mid centuries of Meyerland, the yeah, I could see people taking a chance, but not with these houses. ZAW just out of curiousity, did you buy again in your beloved Sharpstown?

  • We actually bought in Braeburn Valley, Shannon. It’s sort of the outer fringes of what could be considered the Sharpstown area, and it’s a lot like Sharpstown Country Club Terrace in terms of housing stock. Our reason for moving was simply that my wife and I had gotten married, and we wanted a house that was ours instead of mine. My other confession is that I was never actually IN Sharpstown proper. We lived in a smaller neighborhood called Larkwood, which was directly to the south of Sharpstown, and historically in the same price point.
    You’re wrong when you say Sharpstown lacks the Mods of Meyerland. Sharpstown actually has some amazing Mid Century houses. They’re usually not renovated the way the Mods in Meyerland are, but that makes then all the more interesting IMO. (More time capsules). Larkwood has even more than Sharpstown and that’s what led me there. It was developed by the same guy who did Memorial Bend, and many of the architects who did custom houses in Memorial Bend, we’re responsible for the model homes in Larkwood. It’s a hidden treasure trove of Mods.
    But back to Niche’s point, lots of people are scared of Sharpstown and neighborhoods like it (like Larkwood). They see some of the crap that was built around it – and they see poor people living in that crap – and they’re genuinely afraid. The fear shows through in posts, like yours, about Sharpstown. It’s actually less bothersome to me than you think – until you guys then start complaining about how you can’t afford a house any more. (There are plenty of houses you can afford – it’s not my fault if you think they’re in neighborhoods that are beneath you.).

  • To quote Lisa Simpson: “Anything that’s the something of the something isn’t really the anything of the anything.”

    Sharpstown in 10 years will likely be improved; I’m not sure how it’s possible that it could decline very much further barring the possibility of some kind of extraordinary event like an energy bust or a war on domestic soil. However, it will never be Tanglewood. In ten years, Tanglewood will be Tanglewood +10. Sharpstown will be Sharpstown +10. Fort Bend County will be ten years older, and I think that its socioeconomic geography will become more fractured and subject to self-reinforcing stereotypes by then.

    The demographics of newcomers to Sharpstown may at that point be similar to the present newcomers to Westbury; but Westbury will be ten years further ahead too. And Westbury still won’t be Tanglewood, nor will it ever be. None of these will ever be the Heights or Eastwood; and neither of those will be the other. These places are all separate and distinct. And yet, Shannon, they can all be compared to one another.

  • I’m familiar with Braeburn Valley, it’s certainly a step up from Sharpstown. I don’t know why I thought you were gay, I guess the architecture, intellect, and love for mid centuries thru me off. I have to say I’m a bit disappointed, lol. Anyway, we shall see if you’re right about Sharpstown. Believe it or not, I actually hope you are right and I am wrong.

  • I’m afraid of Sharpstown because it just sounds like somewhere you would get stabbed or step on a used needle. Same with Bludgeontown. Bartertown on the other hand is great. Just don’t bust a deal.

  • Some suggestions for fixing this problem have already been implemented like the top 10% rule for HS graduates gaining college admission and the widening of freeways for more far flung commuters. To further reverse the defacto segregation we could also advocate for more inner city upzoning and high-speed regional mass transit.