Local organization fights plans to rebuild public housing units

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Dec 4, 2013

GALVESTON - A local educational and charitable organization claims plans to rebuild two public housing units in Galveston that were damaged during Hurricane Ike would prove detrimental to current and future residents.

Asserting the proposed reconstruction of said units in their original locations is a form of racial discrimination, the Galveston Open Government Project filed a class action lawsuit in Galveston federal court on Dec. 3.

Among the defendants named in the suit are the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state of Texas, the city of Galveston and the Galveston Housing Authority.

The original petition explains that the federal-approved plan seeks to "rebuild some of the 569 destroyed units in impoverished neighborhoods in a low-income city," specifically the Magnolia Homes and Cedar Terrace developments.

It further states that the subject properties in their original forms were developed and built "in a time of de jure segregation."

According to the complaint, many black and Hispanic citizens will be adversely affected.

"The neighborhoods remain segregated from the time of their original building until today," the suit says.

"By planning to rebuild public housing on this land, the defendants seek to continue to the long history of racism and segregation in public housing."

The suit adds the tentative location places the complainants and other tenants "in a floodplain and an area prone to severe damage from tropical storms and hurricanes."

"With both an extremely high risk from hurricanes and the continual emigration from the city due to greater opportunity and less risk offered by the mainland suburbs, the defendants seek to continue to maintain a reservation of poverty conveniently segregated on an island away from the affluent part of the county," it says.

Attorney Shari Goldsberry of Goldsberry & Associates PLLC in League City is representing the plaintiffs.

Case No. 3:13-CV-439

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