or rehabilitated them or have those plans.
There are about 15 of those. There are
also some tracts which have been purchased by people who plan to put in
townhouses, four here, 10 there. They'll
sell for $250,000 up.
Santos: And what happens to the tenants
when these new people purchase?
Klein: Well, the tenants have to go. It
turns out in a couple of recent cases
they've had enough means to purchase
their own homes. They've been forced to
make that intelligent decision. The others
will just have to find new quarters.
Santos: There's a real dilemma. There is
displacement. On the other hand, if the
middle income did not come in, the
housing might not be saved.
(Shots of young man restoring an old
Bill McDugald, new owner in Sixth Ward:
These houses are so much better constructed than those being built today.
They're hard to work on. It takes a lot
longer to fix one of the old ones up but
you have a lot more when you're finished.
It's worth it up to a certain point. I
wouldn't do as much as I did on this
house again ever. But somebody who hadn't done it before might have the energy
to do it. I feel really proud of this. I've
had this dream of what it looked like 100
years ago when it was built and I think it
looks almost like that now and there's
something very beautiful about that. It's
a very honest house.
Leonard Duncan, prospective inner city
home buyer: I'd classify myself as a middle income wage earner and I'd think I'd
be able to afford a house. But it's almost
impossible. Right now money is tight.
You can't go to a mortgage company,
they just say you don't make enough.
Just survival is getting harder and harder
now. You know we're not talking about
the American dream anymore, it's getting
a little beyond that.
Santos: So, one day James and I were
driving down the street in Montrose and
we noted some very strange-looking
houses. They were much smaller than
anywhere else—a different quality altogether and we wondered where it came
Blue: And we found exact duplicates elsewhere in the wards. We've put the two
shots together here just to give you the
(Shots of the same house first deteriorated in the wards, then spruced up, in
Blue: Mr. Steven Rudy of Creative Restorations:
onsite. You can buy them anywhere. The
cheapest one we bought was $90.00
Some are old tract houses. It just varies
with what day of the week it is-a lot of
shot gun houses. Those are the ones with
the clapboard. You buy those for $90 -
$200. We move 'em on site and we upgrade 'em. And then you have got a house
where, say, you pay $5000 for the lot, or
excuse me, $50,000 for the lot, that
means you can usually, it's a 10,000 foot
lot at $5 a foot. You can put four houses
on it. You can spend a lot of money on
renovation. You end up spending $20,000
if you want. You end up with a $35,000
investment. You can sell it for $40,000
to $45,000, make a reasonable profit and
the person made a very good investment,
because in Montrose today to buy a one-
story house, unrenovated, you can pay
$50,000 to $75,000.
Santos: Steve, where do these houses
Rudy: They come from all over. They do
come from the ward areas where they are
John Mixon, UH Law Professor: So long
as the present trends are extended, the
middle-income groups are going to continually engage in reverse block-busting,
are going to move into low-income areas,
buy the houses, paint them, put up burglar bars and squeeze out the current low-
income occupants. The housing stock for
low-income people is going to diminish
year by year. Their units are going to be
boarded up because of housing code violations, they're going to burn because of
the natural fire incidence that occurs in
the inner part of the city and their stock
is simply going to dwindle. Additional
subsidized units are not going to be provided in nearly enough quantity to take
care of the existing number of people
who need the housing and they're simply
going to double or triple up in existing
housing stock. That is going to continue
until the point is reached where the pressure from those groups is sufficient that
they require some sort of governmental
response. When that crisis level is reached
then the government will come up with a
program that looks as if it's going to respond but which probably will not. I
think lower income people cannot be accommodated given this governmental
structure that we are part of now.
Blue (to advisors): What are, in your
mind, the principle issues?
Simon: Well, some kind of either creative
response of an evacuation plan. I mean
that quite seriously. If you're listening to
what has been said, what they're really
saying is that in one of the richest cities
in the country, in a very rich country itself, a city built on the most modern of
technologies is incapable of adequately
housing its own population. A half century ago, with the New Deal, this society
committed itself to having no American
citizen ill-housed. And here we are a half-
century later in the midst of this abundance and affluence, saying we cannot
adequately and humanely house our own
citizenry? I simply refuse to believe it.
ments we heard at the beginning of this
Santos: Steve, I believe you're moving
buildings from one area to another?
Steven Rudy: Yes, we have gone out to
used house lots just like a used car lot and
we have bought used houses, moved them
Stephen Klineburg, Rice U. Chair, Dept.
of Sociology: I think part of what we
have to ask is why have these problems
been so invisible? Why has this city for so
many years been able to pretend that
these things weren't happening? Why
were we able to have a Chamber of
Commerce able to make the kind of state-
Naomi Lede, T.S.U. Director of Research,
Urban Resources Center: The invisibility
of it, perhaps, lies in the indifference that
our institutional sectors tend to adopt.
These individuals (become) victims of institutional inadequacy. And (these individuals) become totally invisible to the extent that we only know them as a statistic,
not as human beings. And once this occurs then the whole city in essence can
become invisible by virtue of neglect.
Blue: What you're seeing so far is not a
finished documentary. We've only got
part of this story. Call us or write us. Tell
us what you think should be included in
the final documentary. Call 523-4682 or
write to S.W.A.M.P., 1506y2 Branard,
Houston TX 77006.
Special thanks to Juliet Clarke and
Karen Spearman for transcribing
the 60- minute taped program of
The Invisible City.
We're working to make
Houston a city of
If you feel you have received different
treatment in any aspect of housing
because of your race, sex, national origin
or religion, contact the City of Houston's
Fair Housing Division at 222-5411.