A Little LouderJun 14, 2019
Episode 58: How Texas renters live under extreme heat
High summer temperatures in the Lone Star State are a regular occurrence. However, in recent years, extreme heat has grown more dangerous, with 2023 being the second hottest summer on record.
With this in mind, Texas is not a state that requires rental units to have air conditioning. And even if a tenant is fortunate enough to have AC, a speedy repair or accommodations are also not codified in law.
This was the main reason behind Texas Housers' latest report 'Renters, Air Conditioning, and Extreme Heat in Texas' and its author, Research Director Ben Martin, joined A Little Louder to discuss the current laws for AC in rental units in Texas and what we feel must change.
Episode 57: Six years past Harvey, recovery troubles remain
Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Coast six years ago this week, back in 2017. And though certain immediate response efforts were swift, the actual recovery has been a long and frustrating process for far too many. Not only are some residents still awaiting funding to make their homes whole again, numerous others have been classified as helped by the Texas General Land Office and have been left behind altogether.
Texas Housers' Southeast Texas Regional Director Julia Orduña joins the show to talk about her work with households recovering from Harvey, how the State wants to take money away from recovery to fund a different program they already had proper funding for, and what we are doing to fix this in 2023.
Did you experience Hurricane Harvey? Tell us your recovery story!
Episode 56: Mass evictions at Cabo San Lucas
On this episode of A Little Louder, host Michael Depland is joined by Texas Housers' community navigator Taylor Laredo, Litigation Director at Lone Star Legal Aid Dana Karni, and Texas Legal Services Center staff attorney William Ritter to discuss a Houston property that had planned to evict more than 100 households at once, with many not receiving the basic documents such as a notice to vacate in a proper manner or – in some cases – at all.
We explore what we witnessed while visiting the Cabo San Lucas Apartments, what occured at the eviction hearings, and what we must do to prevent these mass evictions in the future.
Episode 55: 2023 Texas Legislature Mega Wrap Up And What Comes Next
Communications Director Michael Depland and Research Director Ben Martin team up for one last trip to the Texas Legislature. On this supersized episode, they break down the victories, losses, and in between from what happened at the Capitol this year, and what we have to look for on the horizon.
You can read our full report that details Low-Income Housing at the 2023 Texas Legislature on our blog.
Episode 54: Highway Expansion and Stop TxDOT I-45 in Houston
Since the innovation of major highways in the mid-20th century, there has been a legacy of erasure and erosion of Black and Brown neighborhoods. Nearly 70 years later, communities of color are still fighting those battles in areas like Houston, where the efforts of Stop TxDOT I-45 aim to give these neighborhoods agency and choice regarding the future of their homes.
On this episode of A Little Louder, Michael Depland is joined by former (and forever) Houser Sophie Dulberg, Ally Smither from Stop TxDOT I-45, and Kendra London from Our Afrikan Family to talk about the history of fighting this expansion, where things currently stand, and what the affected neighborhoods want for their communities.
Episode 53: Midway Update at the 88th Session
In this halftime report from the 88th Session of the Texas Legislature, or maybe a little later in the game, Texas Housers' research director Ben Martin joins the show to provide updates on bills regarding eviction preemption, funding for renters, and other tenant protections. Also, Ben and Michael discuss how renters can make themselves seen as equally as homeowners at the State Capitol.
Episode 52: From Eviction Courts to the Capitol (Part 2)
A Little Louder is back to talk about the latest in housing from the 88th Session. Texas Housers has been tracking a number of specific bills at the 2023 Texas Legislature that directly impact those who interface with the eviction process. Jessica Vittorio, managing attorney at the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center, has a unique perspective as someone who both works in Justice of the Peace courts as well as at the Texas Legislature in order to bring balance and equity for tenants in the eviction process. In this episode, we are talking about proposed legislation that could preempt great strides made locally here in Texas as well as other more positive opportunities to give renters in this state rights which are enjoyed almost everywhere else in our country.
Episode 51: Housers and Allies at the Capitol (Part 1)
This supersized episode of A Little Louder features two special guests to talk about bills affecting low-income households at the 88th session of the Texas Legislature. Eric Samuels, President and CEO of Texas Homeless Network and Tanya Lavelle, Policy Specialist from Disability Rights Texas each have worked in the Texas Legislature (and beside Texas Housers) for many years and both joined the show to talk about the legislation they are championing that will help low-income households, what they are optimistic about following a down 2021 session, and how everyone can get involved in the legislative process.
Episode 50: What's happening in housing at the 2023 Texas Legislature?
It's a new year and a new session, the 88th to be exact, of the Texas Legislature. Communications Manager Michael Depland sits down with Research Director Ben Martin to break down the housing bills with the biggest potential impacts this session including issues regarding the construction of affordable housing, fighting for tenants' rights, and much more including how you can get involved and keep up with what's happening at the Capitol.
Follow housing bills on our website: https://texashousers.org/2023-texas-legislature/
Texas Tenants For Change petition for Renters' Rights: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdYY9Me5XiN7wyt6YPeMa7x5aTlK1YlmcUj9rK7zEXfyrTkmQ/viewform
Buzz Session 7: How did ERA really perform in Texas?
The Department of Treasury launched its Emergency Rental Assistance Program in March of 2021 with Texas receiving $2.4 billion dollars to aid with families and individuals struggling to stay housed during the pandemic. Now nearly 18 months later, Texas Housers has observed the manner in which the State of Texas and 37 localities within have distributed this essential rental assistance and closely reviewed 10 major programs in our latest report ‘Emergency Rental Assistance in Texas: How it went and what happens now.’
On today's Buzz Session of A Little Louder, we hear from the report's author, research analyst Erin Hahn, to ask her how the ERA program was seen in different regions of Texas, how the Federal government's hands off approach had pros and cons, and what should be done to prevent displacement and evictions in the future using lessons from this program.
Episode 49: Let's meet Texas Tenants For Change
This week, Texas Housers communications manager Michael Depland speaks with two members of Texas Tenants For Change – Myra and Beeper. The two Houser Academy fellows talk about what went into forming a group, their common experiences as tenants despite living hundreds of miles away, and what they hope to accomplish with their foray into statewide advocacy, including their petition for tenants' rights and livestreams to give voice to renters everywhere.
Buzz Session 6: Breaking Down The QAP in 2023
As the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) ramps up its process to update the rules and scoring criteria by which proposed Tax Credit developments are evaluated – one of the largest creators of affordable housing in the state of Texas – via the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), Texas Housers has released a new report of recommendations to ensure that the best standards and most equitable guidelines are in place to build more affordable housing.
Our research director Ben Martin joins the podcast in order to break down the recent report, declare what should change in the process in general, and how everyday people like you can join in the process to help shape affordable housing in Texas.
You can read the report on our blog as well learn how to submit comments by the October 14th, 2022 deadline.
Buzz Session 5: Managing Code Violations in San Antonio
In A Little Louder Buzz Session #5, Texas Housers’ community equity analyst in San Antonio Uel Trejo was joined by communications manager Michael Depland to discuss her work in shaping this most recent SAPMC, how residents feel Code Enforcement abuses its power and does not provide residents proper information, and how everyone learn more about these sorts of violations. You can read Uel’s recent editorial on code violations at the San Antonio Report as well as the Ousted report which also deals with similar issues.
Episode 48: Five Years Later, Harvey Forgotten Survivors Caucus Speaks
On this episode of A Little Louder, Texas Housers' Southeast Texas Regional Director Julia Orduña joins fellow Houser and Communications Manager Michael Depland to explore more than just a simple look back at Hurricane Harvey, but the work that survivors have put in to seize their own power and make their homes whole again.
Several members of the Harvey Forgotten Survivors Caucus sat with Julia for interviews to explain why the Caucus is so important, how they managed to keep organizing through COVID-19, and their upcoming event 'Hurricane Harvey: 5 Years Of Survival - We Are Still Here' on Saturday, September 3rd. More information on this event can be found at bit.ly/harvey5years
Episode 47: Homeowners Association fights against affordable housing
John welcomes Ann Lott from Inclusive Communities Project in Dallas as well as our advocacy director David Wheaton to talk about a troubling trend starting in Denton regarding Homeowners Associations. The local HOA for Providence Village determined last month that housing choice vouchers will no longer be accepted in their community and landlords who do will be fined for doing so. The bulk of recipients of HCVs in the area are Black families and the majority population of Providence Village are white, non-hispanic families.
After major pushback from county officials, the situation on the ground has shifted, but voucher holders in Providence Village are still in danger of displacement. Ann tells gives us the details of what is happening in North Texas, and how ICP, Texas Housers, and local residents are fighting back against this discrimination and civil rights violation.
Episode 46: Intro to the Houser Academy
On this episode, John welcomes Texas Housers educator Riley Metcalfe to the show to talk about the Houser Academy, our tenant-focused initiative centered on gathering budding advocates from around the state to consolidate people power. We explore the origins of the Houser Academy, what this second year of the project is seeking to accomplish, and how Texas Housers wants newcomers to get involved.
Episode 45: Texas GLO and Discrimination
John is joined by Texas Housers' Advocacy Director David Wheaton on this episode to discuss the recent final determination from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that the Texas General Land Office discriminated against Black and Hispanic Texans in their distribution of CDBG-MIT funds to protect their neighborhoods from future storms and disasters. John and David break down the creation of these dollars, how the discrimination happened, and what needs to come next to protect these neglected communities.
Buzz Session 4: Justices of the Peace are ignoring tenant protections
For this Buzz Session episode, John is joined by Texas Housers' Tori Tavormina and Erin Hahn who both are observing eviction court in Houston and San Antonio respectively. What they are seeing there is that while tenant protections exist for those who are receiving rent relief, they are not necessarily observed. We dive deep into what's happening and what needs to come next for eviction court.
Episode 44: Issues with Texas Rent Relief
On this episode, John explores issues we have heard personally, as well as in the media, regarding the Texas Rent Relief program. While it has been stellar in distributing funds quickly to those who need it, how can they improve accuracy and targeting? And how can we ensure that those seeking help aren't lost in the shuffle and displaced from their homes? We're joined by Texas Housers eviction prevention specialist Tori Tavormina and research analyst Erin Hahn to learn more.
Episode 43: What could a Tenant Bill of Rights do for San Antonio?
Texas Housers, alongside community members and Texas Organizing Project, have strongly declared together that San Antonio needs a Tenant Bill of Rights.
We outlined on our blog what the items in a Tenant Bill of Rights in San Antonio would be, but what does that look like in detail? On this episode of A Little Louder, John is joined by Texas Housers' advocacy director David Wheaton and Texas Organizing Project's Geoffrey Okolo to explain how a Tenant Bill of Rights could effect real, practical change in the city of San Antonio.
Buzz Session 3: Treasury must clarify plan for recapturing Emergency Rent Assistance funds
In A Little Louder Buzz Session #3, Texas Housers’ Senior Researcher Ben Martin and Research Analyst Erin Hahn discuss the confusion caused by the Treasury Department. They make the case for why it is important to clarify the federal policies on clawing back Emergency Rent Assistance.
The US Treasury Department oversees state and local government expenditures of federal Emergency Rent Assistance funds. Texas Housers has discovered inconsistencies in the Treasury Department’s administration of these funds that is causing confusion on when unexpended funds will be taken away from local programs who have not spent all the funds they were allocated. Listen now!
Buzz Session 2: Lessons to learn from COVID
You can watch the video of 'A Little Louder Video Buzz Session 2: Lessons to learn from COVID' on our website, or you can listen to the audio version wherever you get your podcasts.
Episode 42: Expanding The Rights of Tenants In Austin with BASTA
On this episode, John is joined by Shoshana Krieger of BASTA Austin who stops by to talk about the fights for tenants' rights happening in both Austin City Council and alongside fellow organizers on the ground. Krieger spoke with us about demanding more protections for tenants in Austin and the hurdles BASTA faces individually as renters as well as a progressive organization in a tenant-hostile state.
Buzz Session 1: Eviction Surge In Texas
A Little Louder listeners! We have a very special episode today in a new series we call 'Buzz Sessions'. This is our way of quickly reacting to news and topics happening right now. The first 'Buzz Session' we hosted features John Henneberger and Texas Housers senior researcher Ben Martin talking about the urgency of quickly rising eviction numbers in our state with several protections going away, the deadline for rental assistance expiring soon approaching, and what needs to be done to cure both of these issues.
Episode 41: Houston’s Dangerous Apartment Problem Part 1
A Little Louder is launching a new miniseries on substandard housing in Texas and this episode kicks off the special project with Professor Heather K. Way talking about her in-depth report regarding housing in the Sunnyside area of Houston. In this 2017 presentation to residents and community leaders of Sunnyside, Professor Way talks about the months-long study about the dangerous apartment epidemic in Houston, the City of Houston's role in this epidemic, and what should happen to fix the issue.
Spending months pouring through complaints, 311 calls, speaking with residents, and many other data points, the answers to the issue was clear: empower tenants to both address their dangerous living situations and overhaul the city's ability and priority to help these tenants. Listen now for more with Professor Way.
Episode 40: Demolition Deluge in San Antonio
On this episode of A Little Louder, John is joined by Heather Way, co-director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, to talk about the report “Ousted: The City of San Antonio’s Displacement of Residents through Code Enforcement Actions.” This new report from Way and the ECDC details the outsized demolitions happening in San Antonio – specifically located in Black and Latino neighborhoods of the city. There have been hundreds of “orders to vacate” and “orders to demolish” that the City of San Antonio has issued between 2015 – 2020; these numbers far higher than other metropolitan areas in the state like Houston, Austin, and Dallas combined.
In addition to Professor Way, A Little Louder also welcomes Texas Housers South Texas Regional Director Mia Loseff to the podcast to talk about how our organization contributed to the report, what the local organizers and community activists are doing to counteract demolitions, and our extensive work in San Antonio.
Episode 39: Five things that need fixing in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program
On this episode of A Little Louder, John sits down with Texas Housers staff attorney Elizabeth Roehm to discuss updates to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program in our state. While some things remain the same with the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs, 2022 is shaping up to be a time we can effect real change.
Elizabeth and John discuss the strategies necessary to create truly affordable housing in higher opportunity areas, and how Texas Housers – alongside a few strong partners – will be fighting for this in the new year.
Episode 38: The American Rescue Plan Act and Tenants' Rights
On this episode, John is joined by Texas Housers Advocacy Director David Wheaton to give us an update on Texas allocating zero dollars for housing in its American Rescue Plan Act funds and how a coalition of housing organizations are choosing to act now. Texas Housers' Southeast Texas Co-Director Julia Orduña also joins the show to talk about updates with the Texas Rent Relief and Emergency Rental Assistance programs respectively and the urgency to prioritize low-income renters in certain cities and counties.
Episode 37: ERA and the Eviction Crisis in Texas
John is back in the studio and he is joined by several Housers to talk about rent relief and evictions in Texas. With the CDC moratorium on evictions ending in late August, courtesy of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, many tenants are in danger of becoming unhoused or doubling up with family or friends, further endangering their safety as well as that of others. The sole measure that can protect renters now is the prompt delivery of rent assistance, so they may pay their back rent.
Texas Housers has been tracking how quickly and equitably this rent relief has been reaching tenants, in particular low-income households and households of color, and we have released our most recent findings in the report "Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in Texas Vol.2". Senior researcher Ben Martin, research analyst and report author Erin Hahn, Southeast Texas regional director Julia Orduña, and community navigator Ally Harris all join John on the podcast to talk about how rent relief and other eviction diversion tactics are playing out in local government and in households across the state.
Episode 36: Who Can Afford The Rent In Texas?
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has released its Out of Reach report for 2021 and John and Christina are back in studio to discuss how Texas fits into the analysis. Turns out, low-wage workers have a hard time finding affordable housing in Texas, with very little help from state government. The A Little Louder hosts are joined by Texas Housers Senior Research Analyst Ben Martin who helps dissect Out of Reach '21 and what can be done to fix this critical issue for far too many Texans.
Episode 35: Eviction Courtwatch During COVID-19
John is joined by Texas Housers' Julia Orduña and Ally Harris to talk about their experiences watching eviction court during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC moratorium should protect many individuals who appear before a Justice of the Peace due to non-payment of rent. However, far too many defendants and even some judges are not aware of the extent of these protections. Ally and Julia tell A Little Louder about what they have observed, the Houston Eviction Solidarity Network and other volunteer programs like it that are court watching, and what needs to change.
Episode 34: President Biden's Executive Orders On Housing
It's a new year and a new administration has moved into the White House. On the first day of the Biden presidency, the 46th President of the United States signed several executive orders regarding issues such as the pandemic, criminal justice, the economy, and housing. On this episode of A Little Louder, John and Christina both provide historical context to the power of the Fair Housing Act and talk about restoring the federal government's power to protect low-income households. The two also touch on what the Department of Housing and Urban Development is pursuing under new HUD Secretary nominee Marcia Fudge.
Episode 33: Relief for renters during a pandemic
In late December, Congress passed a long-overdue stimulus package that provides $25 billion in rental assistance and extends the CDC ban on evictions through Jan. 31, among other provisions. While the critical relief will pull millions of people out of economic despair, a housing crisis is looming if state and local officials do not prepare for an onslaught of evictions this winter. John and Christina bring in Texas Housers policy analyst Eli Barrish to talk about what the federal rental relief will mean for Texans, the state of eviction protections and rental relief, and how Texas Housers is working to keep Texans safe and housed.
Episode 32: Searching For A Landlord To Take My Voucher
In this episode, John and Christina explore the unnecessarily hard road for voucher holders in Texas. In the Lone Star State, Source of Income discrimination is a major issue for low-income families looking for a place to live. For Samara Nero, she tells us it took a lot of effort, extensions, and months upon months of searching for someone to take her voucher. Thankfully, there are advocates fighting against discriminatory landlords, like Demetria McCain from the Inclusive Communities Project in Dallas who also joins the podcast to talk about her work regarding SOI discrimination.
Read the Inclusive Communities Project's recent report on voucher discrimination here.
Episode 31: Housing Segregation, George Floyd, and Honoring True Housers
For our latest episode of A Little Louder, John and Christina experiment with a unique format. They discuss what they're reading, lift up the work of some great Housers, calling out stuff that "ain't right," and providing brief history lessons in the housing world. We also give a preview of the 2020 Houser Awards on Nov. 10.
Episode 30: Who is this housing for and where does it go?
Every year, Texas receives millions of dollars in tax credits to help developers build affordable housing. It's big money and a highly competitive process. The formula that decides who gets the federal subsidies in Texas is called the Qualified Allocation Plan, which is drafted by our state housing agency, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. We speak with Texas Houser Elizabeth Roehm to break down what's new in the 2021 proposed QAP and challenge some new proposed rules that could curb opportunity for Texas tenants.
Episode 29: The Trouble With PFCs
We are back for a new season of A Little Louder!
This week, John and Christina are joined by University of Texas Law professor Heather Way to learn about how Public Facility Corporations (PFCs) can purport themselves as affordable housing, but have been used as a loophole for big tax breaks while leaving low-income renters in the dust. We also discuss a new addition to the Housers family.
Episode 28: The COVID-19 housing crisis
The news cycle under COVID-19 has operated at a breakneck pace. For many, it's been difficult to track what the rules are and what the government is doing to help those who are in need. Thankfully, at least in regard to housing, we can provide a little clarity for those who may need it.
John and Christina are joined on this week's episode of A Little Louder by Shamus Roller, Executive Director of the National Housing Law Project to help sort through what moratoriums on evictions mean and what in that $2 trillion stimulus goes to housing. We are also joined by our community navigator Ericka Bowman, as she tells us what low-income families in Houston and Galveston are experiencing with the coronavirus limiting everyday necessities like transportation, groceries, and work opportunities.
We are still recording remotely, practicing what Christina calls "physical distancing but social connection." Please continue to stay safe, fellow Housers!
Episode 27: Addressing 'The Gap' for Low-Income Renters
John and Christina were joined this week by Andrew Aurand, Vice President for Research at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, to discuss their 2020 edition of the Gap Report. This deep study into the shortage for rental units for extremely low-income renters exposes some harsh realities for us here in the Lone Star State, including that Texas is far below the national average in affordable and available homes for extremely low-income renters. Aurand also offered what solutions are needed to help shorten this gap, including exercising local, state, and federal power to help our most vulnerable community members.
Our two panelists exchanged their thoughts on the matter all while social distancing in their respective homes. Stay safe, fellow Housers!
Episode 26: Don't eat the toxic fish
For decades, federal, state and local officials knew that the fish in Donna Lake in the Rio Grande Valley carried a dangerous level of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). And for decades, residents in the surrounding community fished in the lake and often ate or sold the fish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted the lake Superfund status in 1993 after a study found that the fish in the lake were toxic and linked to birth defects in infants. Still little was done until recently, when the EPA and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality began remediation and clean up in January. Texas Housers talks to Josué Ramirez who helped lead a local campaign in the Valley to amplify the voices and concerns of residents and demand action that was long overdue.
Episode 25: A Voice for San Antonio Renters
Nearly half of the city of San Antonio's residents are renters. With the cost of housing rising and wages mostly stagnant, too many renters with low incomes are often at risk of enduring shoddy housing conditions or displacement because of a shortage of places they can afford and few legal protections. "We're sometimes at the mercy of the landlord," one tenant said. A city council member has proposed creating a commission of renters to advise the city on tenant issues and housing policy in order to provide a forum for tenants to voice their concerns and be represented in their city's decision-making processes. Texas Housers talks to council member Roberto Treviño, tenant and organizer Kayla Miranda, and Cynthia Merla Spielman, a landlord and founding member of the Tier One Neighborhood Coalition.
Episode 24: Free Our People
In Texas, and across the country disability rights activists have demanded, worked for, and won improved transportation services, the right to choose where to live, and access to housing that suits their needs. But there are still many more strides to take toward more inclusive, accessible communities. In episode 24, Texas Housers talks to disability rights advocate and organizer Stephanie Thomas, with ADAPT of Texas. Thomas discusses how the fight for equitable public transportation in Texas led to a greater struggle for civil rights, community inclusion, and decent, accessible housing.
Learn more about ADAPT at http://adaptoftexas.org/ and disability organizing at http://freeourpeople.net/disabilityorganizing101andbeyond/.
Episode 23: The mandate to affirmatively further fair housing
In its new proposed rule, HUD is redefining a key provision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act and loosening requirements on local jurisdictions receiving federal grants. This would allow more than 1,200 localities charged with addressing patterns of racial segregation to further entrench the legacy of government-sponsored discrimination. We talk to fair housing expert, civil rights attorney, and former HUD official Betsy Julian about how the mandate to affirmatively further fair housing has historically been ignored and how advocates have risen up to make sure the vision of an integrated, inclusive America is not forgotten.
Episode 22: Creosote in Greater Fifth Ward
The Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens areas of Houston are historic Black neighborhoods where families have proudly planted roots for generations. Unfortunately for many community members there, industry also took root nearby and brought toxic creosote with it. Recently, the State of Texas conducted a study and, at last, determined what many in these neighborhoods had long felt was true: a cancer cluster exists in the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens community.
In this episode, we speak with many of the people who have been working to fight for acknowledgment of the health impacts of toxic industry, including Rodrigo Cantú of Lone Star Legal Aid, Sandra Small of Impact 5th Greater Ward, environmental scientist Dr. Jacqueline Smith, and our own research associate in Houston, Sophie Dulberg.
Episode 21: The stink of unequal sewage
Housing inequality can often manifest in ways that many do not think of and some take for granted. For example, the simple task of washing your hands or using the restroom are far more complex for low-income families in situations with sewage backups.
On this episode of A Little Louder, we spoke with our advocacy co-director Lauren Loney about the recent consent decree filed by City of Houston, EPA, and the TCEQ addressing Clean Water Act violations in the City’s waste water infrastructure, as well as our own public comments and pushback on the slow walk to environmental justice. Kristen Schlemmer from Bayou City Waterkeeper also joins the podcast to talk about what she's learned with these sewage backups, and the groundswell to address these issues.
Episode 20: A Look at RAD Conversion
In 2012, Congress authorized some public housing agencies to convert units from their original federally-funded public housing to project-based Section 8 contracts. Since then, more than 100,000 public housing units have been shifted from public control into private control. In Episode 20 of A Little Louder, we talk to a resident about how the long process of RAD conversion at a Fort Worth apartment complex has worked for her and discuss the context of RAD conversion and what the shift from public housing to privatized housing means for our housing safety net. Other interviews include Texas Housers Northwest Texas co-director Caleb Roberts and Legal Aid of Northwest Texas paralegal Guillermo Gomez.
Episode 19: Disaster recovery is leaving out renters
When a disaster hits, flooding and fires might not discriminate, but the systems and funding intended to rebuild our communities do, and in fact the plans public officials put in place often create worse versions of the policies and practices that happen all the time that put people of color and people with few resources at a disadvantage. Texas Housers researcher Amelia Adams discusses patterns that put renters at a disadvantage in hurricane recovery compared with homeowners. We also talk to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorney Rachel Zummo about a lawsuit filed by TRLA on behalf of renters who describe the inequitable system of recovery a fair housing issue. With many of the renters unable to recover being people of color, legal aid and the plaintiffs are calling on the state to directly address this inequality. We also talk to plaintiff Brenda Jones from Aransas Pass about her experience after Hurricane Harvey.
Episode 18: The Power of Renters
More than one-third of households in Texas are renters, and in Austin, more than half of residents rent their homes. With those kinds of numbers, it's a wonder why the Texas Legislature has failed to strengthen tenant protections. As a result, too many Texans live in dangerous apartments that some landlords have failed to maintain or repair. A shortage of affordable housing leaves tenants to endure poor living conditions, and worse, too many Texans face eviction and displacement because of a lack of housing protection. For episode 18, Texas Housers talked to tenants in Austin who are demanding that landlords, city officials, and fellow Texans pay attention to the power of renters and support a movement that centers human dignity in all housing. Interviews with Austin tenants include Divina, Jeff and Jeanne. Additional interviews include Austin City Council Member Greg Casar and BASTA project director Shoshana Krieger.
Episode 17: When Highways Threaten Our Legacy
In 1915, Independence Heights was the first town incorporated by African Americans in the state of Texas. For more than a decade, it was a self-sufficient town that could control its own destiny. When the City of Houston annexed the town in 1929, so began the threat of erasure of the historic neighborhood. Over the decades, Independence Heights was cut off from the rest of Houston by highways, which both segregated the area and destroyed some of its footprint. Today, another threat is imminent. TxDOT is proposing an expansion to Interstate 45. But Independence Heights will not stand for its value, legacy, and residents to be overlooked yet again. Texas Housers interviewed Tanya Debose, executive director of the Independence Heights Redevelopment Council, and the neighborhoods attorney Amy Dinn, Managing Attorney on the Environmental Justice Team at Lone Star Legal Aid, and historians Aimee VonBokel at Lone Star Legal Aid and Kyle Shelton of the Kinder Institute.
Read the complaint by Lone Star Legal Aid: https://lonestarlegal.blog/2019/06/07/txdots-historical-resources-report-omits-houstons-independence-heights/
Episode 16: The House of Cards America Built
When the U.S. government designed postwar housing policy and subsidized massive developments and suburbs, it created a strong middle class. The American dream became synonymous with homeownership. But the U.S. government deliberately left out Black Americans, systematizing racist ideals into U.S. housing policy that has left too many people behind. Giorgio Angelini, director of the film Owned: A Tale of Two Americas, explores these themes and how the commodification of housing has distorted communities and the American ideals of opportunity and integration. Texas Housers sat down for an interview with Angelini after his film screening in Austin, Texas. Check out Owned here.