Galveston leaders are dropping their fight against rebuilding the 569 public housing units damaged by Hurricane Ike, and are now working on a plan, according to The Houston Chronicle:
The negotiations mean that newly elected Mayor Lewis Rosen will be unable to fulfill his campaign promise to issue vouchers rather than rebuild the public housing units flooded by Ike in 2008. The type of vouchers Rosen advocated can be used by low-income tenants to rent anywhere.
Public housing was the central issue in the mayoral campaign, in which Rosen said public housing would breed crime and foster dependency. He defeated incumbent Joe Jaworski, who supported public housing.
Rosen could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
"It’s a very interesting proposal that we at GHA and the city, I believe, are taking seriously," housing authority Chairman Buddy Herz said.
GLO spokesman Jim Suydam said, "The meeting went well, and we think we should be able to reach a compromise."
Herz and Rosen were part of a Galveston delegation summoned to Washington on Monday to meet with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.
Donovan gave Galveston officials 30 days to come up wi…sing authority board member Ann Masel met privately with two members of the land office staff for more than three hours on Wednesday, Herz said.
The voucher plan favored by the mayor and Herz will not be part of the plan, Herz said.
"I still feel the voucher plan I’ve discussed is the best plan for deconcentration of the poor and giving tenants freedom of choice," Herz said.
"The housing authority is prohibited from spending any legal money to fight HUD," he said. "I just feel like I’m negotiating with both arms tied behind my back."
Donovan told the Galveston delegation Monday that he wanted the plan to include mixed-income housing and vouchers that are tied to specific locations through contracts with the housing authority. A previous GHA board majority picked by Jaworski developed a plan that included 170 location-specific vouchers, each of which would replace one rebuilt housing unit. Herz said the number was being negotiated.
Forty of the 569 units were completed last year.