I toured the three devastated public housing developments in Galveston this week and what I saw sickened, depressed and angered me.
The condition of the public housing developments in Galveston, almost three months after the flooding is a classic example of government incompetency. In a community that is struggling to rebuild, the condition of these apartments is a huge billboard advertising the failure of HUD’s accountability and responsibility.
A temporary chain link fence has been erected around the apartments but it was broken down and standing open in places. Anyone can come and go at will through the large, devastated public housing developments.
Windows are broken and many doors were standing open. Personal belongings of the former residents are scattered across the grounds: clothes, chairs, sofas, books, tvs, all sorts of personal possessions. Each apartment I entered is growing mold and is filled with ruined furniture and personal items. The stench is appalling.
Privately owned housing, both single family and apartments surrounding the public housing was also devastated but there were signs of activity and, in many cases, people are trying to rebuild.
Looking at the contrast between the condition of these public housing developments and the private housing in the area shows everyone that HUD has failed to assume any responsibility for aiding the recovery efforts. HUD will claim that the maintenance of the condition of these public housing units is the responsibility of the local public housing authority. I agree that the Galveston Housing Authority does bear some responsibility here. But the local PHA appears simply overwhelmed.
The damage that these conditions do to the will of the surrounding community to rebuild is enormous, the danger these conditions pose to residents of the neighborhoods, especially children, is real.
None of this takes into account how this extreme neglect reinforces negative public perceptions about public housing.
Some responsible entity (HUD) needs to contract immediately to secure and clean up the devastated public housing of Galveston. This is national disgrace.