Bill Bridges the requirements for federal funding. That code begins by saying that “all dwellings and apartments shall provide for a healthful environment with living facilities arranged and equipped to assure such a condition.” The space requirements are the same, but others are much stiffer. The new code requires a potable water supply; connection to sewage; a kitchen sink, lavatory, tub or shower, and water closet, all inside the dwelling unit; privacy in the john; cold and hot water; and heating. It would be hard to find a tenement in the Segundo Barrio that meets all those standards. To anyone walking down South Kansas Street or South Campbell, it’s clear that the apartments aren’t deluxe. They look their age. They are small. Many of them front on the sidewalk. Laundry flying from some porches is utilitarian and threadbare. Still, they don’t look like slums. There are few obvious signs that the residents have given up on their homes, no garbage on the stoops or serious vandalism or urine stenches. Inside, at least inside those I visited or peered into, relative tidiness prevails. The tenements make a middle-class American uncomfortable, but they don’t seem well, dangerous. Critics of the American system of providing housing have suggested that housing codes amount to enforcement of middle-class standards for amenities enforcement that applies only to the poor, who would rather spend their money on, say, food than on indoor plumbing. SOME RESIDENTS Felipe Serrano, 49, stitches soles for the Tony Lama bootmakers when he’s called. He, his wife Guadalupe, and six others live in two rooms of a tenement at 610 S. Campbell. One room is the kitchen. It has a gas stove, a refrigerator, some cabinets. It is perhaps 12 x 12. The water supply is a faucet on the outside of the building. Hot water is water that has been heated on the stove. The other room is about twice the size of the kitchen. There are two beds and a mattress, several cabinets, a shopping cart full of clothes, a television, two light bulbs hanging from cords. Some of the plaster has come off the walls and ceiling: not much. Heat comes when the oven and burners of the stove are turned on. The 40 units in the building share eight toilets at the far end of the interior court. The Serranos have lived there nine months, paying $37.50 a month. The last building they lived in was torn down. Maria Santos lives in three rooms of the same building. Her husband is not at home. He does yard work, odd jobs. They have lived there two years, paying $37.50 a month. “We are very happy here. We like our neighbors very much.” The only complaint she has is that the toilets are often filthy. On the day I was there, they 6 The Texas Observer were clean. “The man who lives over there has diarrhea. He must have made sure that the woman who is in charge cleaned them.” Each toilet is in a wooden stall just wide enough for a person to sit, and just tall enough to contain the water closet. There is paper in each cubicle. “We are good payers,” Mrs. Santos said. “If we did not have enough money, we would not eat, so we could pay the rent.” That is one reason that when she had to leave a building that J. J. Anchondo was modifying, he told her about this one. Another woman, who did not give her name, said she had lived in the building 16 years. When she moved in, her rent was $16; it is $25 now. Once in her 16 years, Anchondo gave the residents some paint. Little of it is visible now. Upstairs, as we talked, a workman was repairing the guard railing. At 920 S. St. Frain, a construct.on permit is taped to a door. At first glance, the work seems to be demolition. It is, in fact, improvement. Workmen are almost finished adding a kitchen and bathroom to what had been a two-room apartment. Estella Morales showed visitors around proudly. One worker took us next door, just as proudly. We must have seemed to be some sort of building inspectors to the family preparing supper. The rent used to be $35 a month and is now $55. The building in the next lot was torn down so the landlord could provide one parking space per unit. The city requires one-and-a-half spaces per unit, but the Board of Zoning Appeals had granted a variance. The landlord is Richard Telles, who is the county commissioner for the Segundo Barrio. TWO LANDLORDS Richard Telles said, “Fixing that building is costing us a pretty penny, but I think we’ll make a return on our
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