PATRICIA MOORE Allen Parkway Village Residents Council President Lenwood Johnson over the entrance to the Fourth Ward from downtown, prompting caution about building along Buffalo Bayou west of I-45 among even the most rabid boosters and developers. The original construction of San Felipe Courts insulted Fourth Ward residents. The project is situated with its back to the neighborhood, and no arterial connections link it to the Fourth Ward. After the war San Felipe Courts was used for low-income housing for whites; it wasn’t until 1968 that the city allowed the first blacks into what was by then called Allen Parkway Village. By 1976, 66 percent of Allen Parkway Village residents were black, and the complex maintained 95 percent occupancy. But in 1977, developers were already eyeing the prime real estate south of Buffalo Bayou. The Houston Chronicle uncovered documents through Freedom of Information Act requests to HUD in 1983, revealing that the Housing Authority had twice secretly petitioned HUD, once in 1977 and again in 1981, to allow the demolition and sale of APV. The second proposal was enthusiastically supported by the new HUD officials under the Reagan administration. In a remarkable series of articles published June 9 and 10, 1985, The Dallas Morning News’ Craig Flournoy produced what is still the most thorough investigation of the APV controversy; a controversy which has benefited from periodic flashes of brilliant journalism. Flournoy reported that in 1977, a developer HACH officials won’t name met behind closed doors with the HACH board. As a show of good faith, the developer left a $1 million check on the table. HACH efforts to demolish the project began soon thereafter. In one of several hard-hitting articles, Flournoy documented how after 1976 HACH had illegally channeled Indochinese refugees into APV, passing up black and Hispanic candidates on the waiting list. APV Residents Council President Lenwood Johnson contends that this policy of “steering” candidates was an explicit attempt to minimize opposition to demolishing APV by slashing the number of residents, and by dividing APV from the mostly black Fourth Ward. Flournoy points out that in 1976, 5 percent of APV residents were Indochinese; nine years later that number had jumped to 57 percent. Meanwhile, the number of black APV residents declined from 66 percent in 1976 to 35 percent in 1985. This illegal channeling had gone on for several years. A housing authority special commission later conceded that, “The steering of Indochinese residents appears to have been an attempt to isolate the project from the Fourth Ward and the larger black Houston community and to defuse the issue as a political concern.” This strategy came sharply into focus when thenHACH Executive Director Earl Philips declared that the Indochinese residents at APV had “violated the [waiting list] process,” which he said made them “squatters.” With that excuse, HACH felt it could threaten these “squatters” with eviction and force them out. Lenwood Johnson says the housing authority’s manager for the complex told all the residents to immediately vacate the project, because it was due to be torn down at any time. With that warning, said Johnson, the mostly. Asian population at APV left in droves. As quickly as they left, HACH began boarding up apartments after tenants moved out. Today only 41 of APV’s 1,000 units are occupied, and HACH has boarded up the rest as people moved on or were evicted. Houston Metropolitan magazine reported in June that one room used by the authority as a storage space contains at least “130 stoves, refrigerators, water heaters, heating and air conditioning units, and almost 100 gallons of Glidden paint.” But APV residents receive none of these amenities; the paint and appliances are for use at housing projects on land less desired by the Houston rich. Former HACH official Charles Taylor told Flournoy that, “There was an over THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 7
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.