HISD nixes land purchase plan that would displace hundreds

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The Houston Independent School District has decided not to exercise its eminent domain rights to buy and raze the Westbury Manor Apartments. The measure failed 5-4, with some board members expressing concern over the apartment complex owner's refusal to sell and the possibility of displacing tenants in a meeting at HISD Thursday night.

If the decision had passed, more than 150 families -- many of them low-income with students in the HISD system -- would have been forced to moved out.

"It would definitely be a huge problem for the people who have been living here for seven years, eight years years and barely can even afford the rent," said Wisdom St. Paul, a tenant at Westbury Manor Apartments.

An HISD spokesperson said the district would have paid for residents' moving expenses up to a 50 mile radius. Not all tenants were upset with the change, especially those who are currently upset about their apartment's condition.

"In the inside of my apartment, the ceilings leaking," said Mishika Burns. "I tell them over and over; nothing gets done about it, so I'm up for the idea to move people to better conditions."

A spokesperson says HISD does have a $40 million from 2012 to use on renovations and the land purchase at the high school.
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