Houston's East River Redevelopment Threatens Historic Black Neighborhoods

Longtime residents are being left behind by new development that has raised housing costs and property taxes for some of Houston's most vulnerable communities, according to an article in the Houston Chronicle.

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October 22, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Houston, Construction

Sandra Fernandez / Flickr

Rapid redevelopment in Houston's Fifth Ward threatens the future of the historically Black community, many of whose residents have already been displaced. As R. A. Schuetz reports, "[t]he median home sales price in the neighborhood has risen to $335,000 in 2020 from $145,000 in 2010, according to Houston Association of Realtors data," and encroaching development has led local institutions such as churches to consider relocating. 

"Fifth Ward, like many historic Black and Latino neighborhoods, has also seen drops in its minority population." The upcoming East River development "has already begun construction on a golf course and will eventually bring over a million square feet of apartments, offices, restaurants and retail. Its developer, Midway, has promised that 15 percent of its housing will be affordable." But "[t]he most affordable of East River’s units will target households making 80 percent of the Houston region’s median income — that’s $63,050 for a family of four. That’s more than double Fifth Ward’s median household income of roughly $30,000."

Harvey Clemons Jr., one of the founders of Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, "advised longtime residents to love their new neighbors and for legislators to think of ways to change the tax rules so that people who grew up there are not priced out." Clemons warns that "[t]o romanticize antiquity is an error," and "the only course [in the face of redevelopment] is to look forward."

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 in The Houston Chronicle

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