Refugees Learn to Survive as Pedestrians on Houston's Dangerous Streets

For one refugee family, living in Houston has meant facing a host of new challenges as they traverse the city’s roadways without a car.

1 minute read

February 20, 2020, 11:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink


Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock

Peter Holley writes about a family who moved from a refugee camp in Burundi in Central Africa to Houston and their acclimation to life in this city—namely, learning to make their way along treacherous roads on foot.

Among Texas cities, Houston stands out for its especially bad sidewalk infrastructure, where crossing busy roadways can be deadly. And the risks are even greater for residents on Houston’s southwest side. Sixty percent of the deadliest intersections are located in this area, and most resettled immigrants live in this part of the city.

"Not only is southwest Houston one of the most car-dependent areas in the nation, it’s also beset by narrow sidewalks in various states of disrepair, limited signage, distracted drivers, and relentless waves of traffic," writes Holley.

Holley says that refugees are learning to navigate Houston streets, but they are still at risk even when following the rules. "Beyond the danger, [Jay Blazek] Crossley said the city’s sidewalks send a clear message to refugees. 'It’s the same message that has always been sent to low-income Houstonians: you’re not welcome and we don’t value your safety,' Crossley said."

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