An investigation into substandard housing conditions in Houston, Texas



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Substandard housing is a serious problem that affects the nation. In this country, over twenty million persons live in deteriorating or dilapidated houses. The City of Houston, Texas, is no exception to this problem. Over 200,000 residents of the city live in substandard dwellings, and the number of substandard units is increasing approximately 1,200 units per year. The large number of substandard dwellings and the continuing increase of these buildings have created serious social and physical problems for the city. Persons residing in substandard dwellings are more susceptible to various diseases and crimes than persons residing in sound structures. The average family in a substandard dwelling will have a low income, poor education, and limited access to private transportation. These conditions do not exist because of substandard housing, but they are interlocked in a complex cycle in the Houston environment. Housing is an important part of the cycle. Efforts to improve the quality of low-cost housing have been meager until the past year. The Houston building contractors have been constructing large and expensive houses and ignoring the houses in the lower brackets. The Houston Housing Authority has not constructed any new units in the past twenty years. The chances appear remote that any new units will be constructed even though Authority officials have stated publicly that their organization desires to construct new units. The Houston Housing Development Corporation has assisted in few low-cost housing projects and appears to be lacking financial support. The various new programs sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development have improved the availability of low-cost housing in the City of Houston for the past year. The future of continued improvement in this area faces serious problems. The government assisted programs have been criticized not only in Houston but in the entire country. There has been strong local opposition to the government assisted projects. The elimination of substandard housing will remain on a token basis unless two steps are taken: (1) large sums of federal funds must be channeled into the local governments. This could happen if the Viet Nam War ended. Local governments can not finance the elimination of substandard housing. (2) The local governments must be willing to accept the problem of substandard housing as one that affects the entire city. Local governments must accept the consequences if federal funds can eliminate the slum houses. This will mean that blacks and other minority groups will be dispersed throughout the city and suburbs. When the funds are available, and the attitude of the City Council of Houston has changed, there will be a beginning of the elimination of substandard housing in Houston, Texas.



Houston, Housing