Galveston City Council today voted 5-2, with Elizabeth Beeton and Norman Pappous opposed, to approve a resolution which is considered to be in compliance with the Texas General Land Office and Housing and Urban Development requests to rebuild public housing in Galveston. Resolution
Beeton used a PowerPoint presentation to support her opposition to the plan.
“I understand that because of the conciliation agreement the state housing advocates, which are Texas Appleseed and the Low Income Housing Information Association, have been involved in the negotiations for this plan; you might even say controlling the terms of the plan,” Beeton said. “But I have been mystified as to why they like this plan and are insisting this is the approach that Galveston take.”
Council Member Marie Robb disagreed with Beeton.
“I would just like to make it clear that, one; I had no idea about this presentation, nor do I feel that Councilwoman Beeton is speaking for the council,” Robb said. “I think she is presenting her feelings and I just wanted to make that clear.”
“I have lived in Galveston my entire life,” said Mayor Pro Tem Rusty Legg, noting that he has had African-American friends, Hispanic friends and white friends; and race has never been an issue until recently. “This has been the most devisable issue that in my lifetime has ever happened in Galveston.”
Legg called on the city council to approve the plan and move forward.
Council Member Terrilyn Tarlton expressed frustration at the process.
“None of us on City Council has been able to talk to HUD directly; they refused to talk to us,” she said. “We have not been able to talk to GLO; they refused to talk to us. We are not even supposed to speak to GHA, except through our attorney.”
Tarlton said she also regrets that the local housing advocates were also prohibited from talking to the city council.
“This has been a long, long time of involvement for me to participate in, knowing that some of our folk have struggled a long time and that some of our folk have been living with each others – living at homes of family members and so forth and so on,” said Council Member Cornelia Harris Banks. “And so, I really want to thank all of the persons who have been involved, previous housing authority members as well as the current ones.”
Pappous was very annoyed by the process, noting that it was about numbers, not people.
“I believe the GLO has acted in bad faith,” Pappous said, arguing that the issue should be decided by a judge. “I believe the GLO has basically acted outside the scope of their authority and I believe the GLO will lose in court.”
“I commend all members of the Galveston Housing Authority and our City Staff for their time and efforts in preparing this plan” concluded Mayor Lewis Rosen. “It is time for Galveston to move forward.”
"The approved resolution includes the rebuilding of 141 public housing units and 141 market rate units on the Magnolia Homes and Cedar Terrace sites," said a City of Galveston news release. "The plan also outlines construction of 388 multi-family and single-family units on scattered sites, with the possibility of up to 50 of these constructed outside the city of Galveston, within Galveston County. A HUD planning grant that was awarded to the City will assist in determining the most appropriate location for the scattered site units."
“We look forward to a joint effort in continuing the recovery of Galveston” stated City Manager Michael Kovacs. “This agreement was negotiated with the Austin advocate groups.”
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