White Republicans are criticizing a plan by the Harris County Commissioners Court to prioritize investment of flood control funds in Houston’s communities with high social vulnerability.
This is a departure from decades of allocating funds to communities with the highest property values, the New York Times reports. The city’s previous approach allocated flood-control funds based on a cost-benefit calculation of funds spent against property damage averted.
The approach had a “false transparency [and] rigor” with effects similar to redlining, according Earthea Nance, an associate professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University. “This is the same public investment that’s been going to whiter and more prominent areas for decades,” Chrishelle Palay, who leads Houston Organizing Movement for Equity, a group that sought the change, told the Times.
In Harris County, racial lines and party lines are essentially the same, and Republicans accuse Democrats of steering money to the communities where their voters live. Dave Martin, Houston’s mayor pro tem, said his constituents in the wealthy community of Kingwood would not have voted for the bond measure if they had known it would be allocated in a way that prioritized communities of color. On that point, Mr. Martin and Ms. Palay agree.