Friday, August 21, 2015

Black Lives Matter: Discrimination in Housing



KTRK/ABC13 picked up the story and here is the story:

By Tracy Clemons

"HOUSTON (KTRK) --A Southwest Houston man says he's been kicked out of his apartment because his landlord is no longer accepting the government vouchers he uses to pay rent.

He's one of more than 17,000 people in Houston who depends on the vouchers. And another 60,000 are on the waiting list.

Until last week, Eric lived at Victoria Place Apartments near Fondren and Westheimer. He says when the complex changed owners last year; he found out months later that they'd no longer accept his low-income housing voucher. He had less than two months to find a new place that met his needs.

"I want to be able to get to the doctor, get to church, get to a grocery store, do basic things that people take for granted," he says. "And I'd like to be able to do it on a bus line because I don't drive right now."

That proved to be a difficult task.

"I'm thinking about the waiting lists that are three and four months backed up, the few places that are accepting them now because their management has changed," he explains.

"If you look at the construction that's going on in front of the complex where he lived, there's a new complex going up. There's a new economy being shaped and he's not conducive to that. He's not a part of that plan," says friend and community activist Ashton P. Woods.

Woods tells Eyewitness News there are a whole lot of people in Eric's situation being forced out of the neighborhoods they love.

"In other words, you get priced out and pushed to the outskirts."

"Oftentimes it's not the landlords' decision to accept or not to accept that's the limiting factor," explains Houston Housing Authority President/CEO Tory Gunsolley. "It's what are they able to charge for rent."

Gunsolley says that figure is steadily rising, and his hands are tied.

"If they're able to charge for rent is $1,500 a month and I'm only offering $1,000 a month, no reasonable landlord is gonna take it on the chin to do that."

We're told about 5,400 landlords accept the vouchers in the city. The Housing Authority is working to get that number up in more desirable neighborhoods so people in Eric's situation can have more options."


A message from Eric:

"Hi guys! I'm taking a moment to set aside my pride and ask for a little bit of help with something that I can't do on my own. I'm transitioning from one house to another house and the expenses of moving & the deposit are more than my means will allow me to take care of on my own. Simply put, I'm asking for any help that you can give--great or small. I'm looking to raise $1,500 which will cover the cost of moving along with the $1000 deposit I will need for my next place and fees that are associated with this GoFundMe campaign. I'm currenfly staying with my parents in New Orleans until I'm able to secure a place in Houston with my housing voucher. I thank you in advance for your well wishes & donations big and small; I know it all comes from a good place and I appreciate that."


Previously I made the assertion a recent blog post #ITLQBM - Blackness & Equality Under Attack that "Black Lives truly do matter and intersectionally speaking, this is the time to rise up, not just for the protections from discrimination and for law enforcement to do right by us. The time is now to rise up and recognize that we are being pushed out of affordable housing while being moved to the outskirts of the city..." When I said that. I was thinking about people that I know and don't know who live right here in Houston and are part of the Housing Voucher program (formerly Section 8). Starting with the long waiting lists to even be considered for a housing voucher that people have been on at some points, for YEARS and ending with those who actually are lucky enough to get a voucher have sixty days to redeem it on housing.

Here is the deal, in that sixty days you have to find housing that accepts the voucher, the housing has to meet criteria and pass inspection before you can get in. THIS is where the issue starts: The City of Houston website gives info on how to find listings that are specific to the program.


These are the resources listed in the above graphic:

SocialServe: 877-428-8844,
Housing Resource Navigator: 713-696-1998 or 877-428-8844. 

The issue is that these resources are not accurate or up to date at any given moment! I can't truly one hundred percent fault these resources, many of the properties are suddenly, no longer taking vouchers. They are renovating and pricing people of low income status out, the trend is part of the rampant gentrification of historically minority neighborhoods. I took to Facebook and voiced my frustration: "So my last few days and still going now, have been spent helping a friend move. He is being forced out of his apartment because he is using a low income housing voucher. Many apartment complexes are no longer taking vouchers and many Houstonians are at the same peril. Here is the kicker, when you get the voucher is gives you 60 days to find housing. That is a scary thought that the housing isnt available and no one in a position of power is addressing it. I am noticing the movement of people to near hwy 6 and Westheimer, further away from the center of the city. This AINT right."

The housing options that remain central within the city are bogged down with wait lists, and leasing agents acting as gatekeepers who tell prospective renters purposefully incorrect information. If the person even sounds Black, the information changes and is the type of info that deters one from even attempting to view the property. These properties need to be investigated, ESPECIALLY when they are federal tax credit properties. Whatever the case, My friend Eric still needs help and has found potential housing, he needs deposit assistance ASAP. Because of this, we have set up a GoFundMe account to raise $1,500.00 for moving and deposit assistance. This is the type of issue that we need to address and can be fixed with little to no fight.

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