Low-income housing worries in Galv.

October 20, 2008 4:06:37 PM PDT
As the entire island of Galveston works to rebuild its infrastructure, there are lingering questions over what will be demolished, and what will be standing in a matter of months. Hurricane Ike has had a significant impact on low-income housing.ROAD TO RECOVERY: How you can help | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim

A lot of people are concerned, especially considering the Red Cross shelter is going to be closing in a number of days. We do know that two federally subsidized high-rise apartments for the elderly have reopened, and two other properties for low income housing are expected to reopen. However, that still leaves four island properties whose futures remain uncertain.

Another day sitting in front of the shelter is another day Demitrius Santana is not sitting at home. He is worried if he'll ever go home again. Staying this past month at the shelter has taken its toll.

"Waking up with a lot of strangers and going to sleep," he said. "I have children and trying to raise the kids around different people is not easy."

Many of the people using facilities at Galveston's Red Cross shelter lived in subsidized housing on the island prior to the storm -- places like the Oleander Homes are now completely shut down and fenced off to the public. The following housing developments are closed:

  • Oleander - 52nd at Broadway
  • Cedar Terrace - 29th at Ball
  • Palm Terrace - 41st at Ball
  • Magnolia - 16th at Strand
A total of 584 units are no longer considered livable. The storm damage was too severe to reopen these developments. While the Galveston Housing Authority is in the process of detailed property inspections, the concern is whether demolishing would be cheaper than rebuilding.

Harish Krishnarao with the Galveston Housing Authority explained, "If the total renovation cost is more than 50% of the development cost, then we need to retrofit the buildings to our current codes and conditions, which would make it cost prohibitive to fix the properties."

The decision has not been made yet. It won't be determined until federal inspections have been completed, and that is expected to take two to three weeks, if not longer.

Meanwhile, Krishnarao spent most of the day explaining the process to city officials. It's a process that seems slow when compared to the timetable of expectations by constituents.

"The majority say they want to come back home," said Galveston City Council Member Tarris Woods. "They want their home back. They want to try to get their lives back stable once again, and as soon as possible."

These are concerns taken very seriously by Galveston city officials. They have organized a town hall meeting at the Galveston Island Convention Center at the San Luis Resort at 5600 Seawall Boulevard on Wednesday, October 22 from 5:30 to 8:00pm.

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