Freedman's Town area homes fall into disrepair, bring crime to neighborhood

Lileana Pearson Image
Saturday, July 8, 2023
Neighbors want city to act on historic, rundown homes attracting crime
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Freedman's Town residents are facing a challenge in their neighborhood - what do they do with historic but abandoned homes that are attracting crime?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Historic row houses in the Freedman's Town area have fallen into disrepair and brought dangerous crime to the neighborhood. Freedman's Town is a historic neighborhood where the first free Black men and women settled in Houston. Worn-down homes are the few original houses that remain from that period.

Dropped in the middle of condos and trendy restaurants, the historic homes have broken windows and busted locks. No one tries to hide what's going on there as people walk in and out of the homes that used to be gated off.

"And as you can see, there are six homes, and someone just came out of one of these homes," Megone Trewick, a neighbor, said as Eyewitness News stood on the corner of Victor Street.

Trewick lives across the road from the old houses. She bought it in 2020 and redid her place, excited to bring new life to the block.

"The home we bought was in shambles. It was in horrible, dilapidated condition. We saw this as an opportunity to affect further changes in the neighborhood, so we purchased, we repaired, and we've been owners here since then," Trewick said.

While she was renovating, a contractor was actively working on the historic homes, which came to a screeching halt with no explanation.

"Developers just left. No one came back. No one did further development. They stopped maintaining the yards. They stopped securing the yards, and everything came to a standstill," Trewick said.

"These homes were constructed between 1913 and 1922," Charonda Johnson, a Freedman's Town native and Vice President of the Freedman's Town Association, said.

Johnson said because of all the historical classifications on the homes, it's a tall, expensive order for a developer to come in and do it right, but she has faith that the former developer or a new one has what it takes.

"Any other structure, you can tear it down and do what you want to do with it. But, the certain protections we have on the community now, you can't do that, so these historic structures have certain protections and have to be preserved a certain way, and that's very costly," Johnson said.

Trewick said the crime brought in by these "free to anyone" structures is her biggest concern.

"To stop and to leave it to go to shambles, to leave us in the mess that was created here, that is unconscionable, and we deserve better," Trewick said.

Trewick wants to see the history honored, the neighborhood respected, and communication from the city of the direction of the project.

The Department of Neighborhoods said they have inspected the properties and are looking into who the current developer and owner may be.

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