manner. They live in terrible conditions.
But I don't want to live like that.
Maria-Luisa Urdaneta, advisor: I have a
question. Is there housing available?
Santos: Very little.
Urdaneta: How much of it is racism?
Douglas Uzzell, advisor: A big piece of it.
Santos: I think this surprised me. I'll be
quite honest. I didn't really believe prejudice was quite as heavy as it appears to be.
Edwards: It's not getting any better,
which makes us so pessimistic. The U of
H did a study and their projections for
1990 are that Houston will still be just as
segregated as it is now. That means what
we're doing isn't doing a bit of good.
William McClellan, Director, Housing
Authority: We're still struggling to meet
the need that existed in the late 50's and
early 60's. You know, simply because
nothing occurred here for 20 years. And
we're playing catch-up, which we'll never
do. We probably will build or commit to
build this year some 750 new units of
new housing. While that doesn't sound
like a lot, for us it's a tremendous step
Roberta Burroughs, City Planning Dept.:
We found that overcrowding in the low-
and moderate-income areas is substantially higher than that in other parts of the
city. So Houston has a higher overcrowding rate than, say, New York City. And
then you've got even higher overcrowding
in the low- and moderate-income areas.
We discovered that, in those areas, six out
of 10 of the housing units are experiencing structural damage.
Edith Clark, Sunnyside resident: See
these homes in this area, they are not
even 30 years old. And they are falling
apart. And they are not old enough to be
falling apart. I think that when these
people built these houses out here, we
were ripped off.
Burroughs: I'm very afraid that if there is
not an accelerated effort to create new
housing for low-income people, and
to rehabilitate the units in which low-
income people now live, I'm very afraid
that we're headed for a deplorable situation. A deplorable housing situation..
Santos: You know, one of the things that
struck me in your report is that a lot of
the housing is relatively new. It's post-
1940 and yet it's deteriorated.
Burroughs: In many instances we are talking about a unit that was built for a low
income person. And it was not a unit that
was intended to last for a long time. And
it was not a unit into which a lot of time
and solid materials were placed.
Carrie Jackson, South Lawn homeowner:
I moved into the house on March 28th of
Blue: You bought the house new?
Jackson: Right, I bought the house new.
It rains in the den, bathroom, kitchen and
my bedroom. In the bathroom here, it
has a hole in the top. We tried to fix it,
but it still won't stop raining through
here. And I can sit on the stool or take a
bath and I have a shower either way I go.
I just really don't care. I've just really
given up everything.
Burroughs: We're talking about nearly
half the units. Forty-six percent are experiencing major problems. We're talking
about half the population of the city.
(1970 census.) And talking about 27% of
the land area. If this process is not reversed, I'm very afraid that people will be
forced to abandon these units. And we'll
have a more severe problem with overcrowding and a more severe problem with
the condition of units because the more
people that you pile into a unit, the more
it's going to deteriorate.
Santos: How many abandoned units are
there in the city?
Dave Johnson, Administrator, Housing
Code Enforcement: Today, we have approximately 4,000 on our books. And
there are some that we're not even aware
that they've been abandoned. Some were
abandoned last night. There were fires
Santos: What is the rate of abandonment?
Johnson: If I were asked to give a figure,
I would say an average of three to five a
day in Houston.
Santos: How many units have you pulled
down to date?
Johnson: To date? We started in '68. And
buildings demolished? We've demolished
a total of 6,490.
Santos: and this year you intend to tear
down even more?
Johnson: To give you an idea of how
we've increased, we've already demolished at least 278 in 1979. And this is
what, the seventh month of the year?
Last year we demolished 596. That's just
too many. We're losing too many structures. Now we would say that of the ones
we've demolished, more than 60% of
those houses could be saved with an investment of anywhere from $6,000 to
Santos: That's crazy because we can't
build housing for that. You know, we can
barely build a unit for $40,000.
Johnson: I would say that $20,000 would
renovate almost any single-family dwelling that we've demolished.
William Simon, advisor: Before we go on,
I'd like to get this on the record. I found
that the statistics are depressing, additionally depressing because the comparison is always made to other cities, usually
northern cities. But we forget that most
northern cities have had almost all of
their new construction occurring outside
of their city limits. We're talking about a
city that's had all its new construction
basically within the city limits. So when
we talk about this proportion of this
city's housing being substandard, it's really even more dramatic than the comparisons suggest.
Santos: We're going to call this film "The
Invisible City" because we don't believe
that people know what's out there.
Hazel Patten, Third Ward resident: They
don't. They really don't. And that's a fact.
Then you go to Third Ward, Fourth Ward,
or Fifth Ward, or Acres Homes. You just
don't think you're living in the same
(Shots of Santos and Blue driving through
Santos: This was James and I driving
around really for the first time. We covered several hundred square miles and we
kept saying the same things—I don't believe it's ever going to end. And, oh my
God, it seems to be going on forever.
Blue: We kept saying, "My God, my God."
(Rapid sucession of shots of deteriorated
houses from all sections of the city.)
Simon: These could be pictures describing poverty in rural America.
Santos: Isn't it amazing? It's very rural.
Alaniz: Like I say, the mayor of this city,
he goes gallivanting and jetsetting all over
the country, Washington, and what have
you, and he's giving the image of this city
as the showcase of the nation. But he
never tells them what's on the other side
of the fence.
Mary Brown, Director, Houston Urban
Bunch: What most newcomers to Houston see is what has just been developed.
One Shell Plaza, the Galleria, Greenway
Plaza. They don't know what's up in
Shelton: They don't know what's in Fifth
Ward. They don't never bring them back
this way. They always carry them back
over there where all the finery is.
(A cut from the film: Houston by the
Chamber of Commerce is shown with the
fo llo wing dialog.)
Announcer: Houston gives its people
lots of room to move. And there's a stunning array of neighborhoods to live in.
The standard of living is high in Houston,
while the cost of living is low. One reason
is that local government is efficient and
taxes are kept low. There is no state,
corporate or personal income tax. It has
been said that Houston does not tick,
it spins. It spins with people-1,000
new people a week. (End excerpt.)
Louie Welch, President, Houston Chamber of Commerce, former mayor: We
have the greatest potential for personal
opportunity and personal freedom in
Houston of any place in the world.
Reporter: Is it the land of opportunity,
say, for people like the ones who live in
that slum housing in the Fourth Ward?
Welch: Yes it is. And the only limitation
is their ambition, their talent and their
desire to get with it. It's tougher for the
guy that starts on the bottom; but if he
has the education, the desire, motivation
and the talent, he can make it in Houston.
One of the reasons given by the minority
population in Houston, why Houston
didn't burn when other cities were burning, why there was no long continued periods of militancy, was the attitude of the
black in Houston. Now, if you can't make
it in Houston, Texas, you can't make it
anywhere because Houston is there. It's
yours if you want to conquer it.
(Cut to old car pulling camper entering
Houston-it has a New York license plate.)
Blue: Where you coming from?
Dave Page: New York.
Blue: What cha' doing down here? You
Page: No, we came down looking for a
Blue: How long you been traveling?
Page: Just from San Antonio to here, this
would be our third day. We came down,
it took us four days from New York to
Blue: How come you didn't stop in San
Page: Well they didn't offer us much—the
money, the rent was way high. We couldn't afford it. The opportunities are great
here. A friend said I could get a good job.
Edira Page: I told him let's see if maybe
we can get lucky and find a place to rent
right now, you know. And we stopped at
about six places, and the first place said
that every child had to have its own room
and they don't have more than three bedrooms. So like, I mean, if every child has
to have its own bedroom we have to have
a five bedroom place. Then the next one
we went to was infested with cockroaches.
And if you're downstairs every time it
rained, it went right into the apartment.
It just flooded you out. And then all the
toilets would back up every time it rained.
And, I mean, to get anything decent,
you'd have to pay $350 or more a month.
And when you're making $5.00 an hour,
by the time what you bring home, it's
gonna take almost two paychecks just to
get an apartment, and that's without utilities.
Blue: What, then, are you going to do