A first-of-its-kind civil rights, fair housing and environmental justice agreement has been reached in Corpus Christi, Texas, in response to decades of mistreatment of a historic African-American neighborhood.
The Texas Department of Transportation plans to relocate and rebuild Corpus Christi’s Harbor Bridge, but the route selected by state and city leaders cuts directly through the neighborhoods of Hillcrest and Washington-Coles on the city’s north side, historically home to large African-American populations due to redlining and Jim Crow era segregation. This community, surrounded by heavy industrial sites, Interstate 37, the Port of Corpus Christi and a wastewater treatment plant, is already disproportionately burdened by the city’s pollution, hazards and noise. The bridge will not only bring more noise and pollution to these disinvested neighborhoods, but will effectively isolate the Northside neighborhoods from the residential part of the city.
Texas Housers worked with community residents, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the Environmental Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to find a way to mitigate the damage caused by the new Harbor Bridge. TRLA filed a federal Title VI civil rights complaint filed on the community’s behalf, which resulted in a groundbreaking mitigation agreement worth millions of dollars for neighborhood residents. The agreement includes a voluntary relocation program for all Northside residents, financial assistance, public housing mobility, neighborhood improvements and more.
We are proud to stand with Northside residents in this historic victory, and will continue to work with them to monitor the implementation and enforcement of this agreement. We previously produced a short documentary featuring residents and community advocates explaining the history of segregation and discrimination on the Northside and the need for mitigation of the bridge project:
Dr. Debbie Niemeier, a professor and environmental expert at the University of California, Davis, has been studying the air quality and health consequences of the Harbor Bridge proposal. In this video, she presents her findings on the benzene dangers to which residents could be exposed:
Texas Housers community planner Melissa Beeler wrote her Master’s report for the Community and Regional Planning program at the University of Texas on how redlining and local planning actions created dangerous living conditions on the Northside. She has also written about the history of segregation in Corpus Christi for our blog:
From our site:
Leathers residents see limbo, some success in vouchers, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 9/24/16
Northside complex residents getting more time to relocate, KIII-TV, 9/22/16
Relocation plans change for Leathers, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 9/21/16
Some Can’t Find New Homes as Demolition of Corpus Christi Public Housing Nears, Texas Tribune, 9/19/16
Leathers residents displaced by bridge issued vouchers, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 8/5/16
Moving forward: DN Leathers residents await housing vouchers, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 5/14/16
Bridge Project Prompts ‘Buyout’ of Corpus Christi Neighborhood, Texas Observer, 12/30/15
Advocates review proposed bridge buyout agreement, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 12/14/15
$20M proposed for Harbor Bridge buyouts, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 12/11/15
Legal Group Files to Stop New Harbor Bridge Construction, KIII-TV, 8/12/15
A Neighborhood Apart, Texas Observer, 6/1/15
Feds investigate whether Harbor Bridge project violates neighborhoods’ civil rights, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 4/10/15
EPA: Harbor Bridge study underplays potential Northside impact, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 1/23/15
Residents, advocates file comments against red route of bridge, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 1/6/15