Broken Promises

Fourth Ward residents are left with a harsh reality

To date, none of the Fourth Ward residents contacted for this story, all of whom were turned down for public housing units at the Historic Oaks at Allen Parkway Village, received any help from the housing department.

"A lady came by from the City of Houston, but they're not telling us much of anything," says Cynthia Flood, a Fourth Ward resident who rents a house on Wilson Street that was bought by Houston Renaissance then conveyed to Perry Homes in a land swap. "We see [city relocation personnel] once every few months, and then we hear nothing else from them."

Flood was one of many Fourth Ward residents who were told that because of a poor credit history, they were ineligible for new public housing units under construction at the Historic Oaks at Allen Parkway Village. The city's reaction to this policy, which could leave some of Houston's poorest families with no place to go except a homeless shelter, has been in keeping with its recent history in Fourth Ward -- that is, anything but compassionate and decisive.

Mayoral assistant Al Calloway, who helped develop the city's relocation policy for Fourth Ward, says he was told by the housing authority that residents were not being denied housing at the new APV site solely because of poor credit. When told that according to rejection letters received by at least a half-dozen families, that appeared to be exactly what was happening, Calloway seemed surprised.

"I don't believe that it's prudent to deny people because of their credit record," Calloway said. "After all, housing that the city expects the housing authority to provide is for people who, for one reason or another, don't have perfect credit."

That said, Calloway was reluctant to get too involved. He saw "no reason to intervene" and expressed confidence that HACH would apply admission standards to the Fourth Ward "within guidelines and in a sensitive manner."

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