Education Fuels Fears Over New Low Income Apartments On The South Side



Brady Chandler
The Southside Light

South Side—Ground was broken this week on a new apartment community on the city’s south side that focuses on the issue of affordable housing. With so much growth being undertaken in the area, one might expect that affordable is an issue that needs to be tackled, but it seems like the south side is split on having it come in right in their own backyard.

The Village at Henderson Apartments will be located on Henderson near Yorktown, deep in the south side. The developers say that the community will be home to 88-units of two-and-three bedroom apartments that are dedicated to low income families, and while some are excited about the project, many south side residents are not.

“They are moving low wage earners in right on top of us,” says Jason Alvarez. “I’m just worried about the safety and security of our neighborhood.”

And while Alvarez might make a valid point, others argue that they are equally as concerned about property values in the immediate area being impacted.

Many residents are finding themselves nervous about the project and feel like the project should focus more on seniors and the elderly who live off of fixed income and traditionally bring a lower crime rate with them.

Alvarez questions why they don’t build projects like this out on the Island? He feels it’s largely because of strong Property Owners Associations banding together to prevent it.

“We didn’t even have time to come together and we sure as Hell weren’t properly notified about this so we could provide our feedback,” he says. “If you want to do this then don’t you think that you should ask the people it’s going to impact?”

Others like Sandra Ruiz feel like this is an attempt to allow lower income families to place their children at Veterans Memorial High School in CCISD.

“Those Bluff people do not want poor kids coming into their district,” she says. “They made that clear on Facebook, so why not try and get them into an equally as good, if not better high school? I see where they are going.”

She believes that under the right circumstances people from all walks of life can live together. However, she shares the concern of people like Alvarez.

“I just don’t want the crime rate to skyrocket and then have to look at windows with black trash bags on them,” she says.

But in recent times, places like Flour Bluff have seen low income housing move into their communities with limited side effects.

With at least 4 apartment communities in the Bluff designated as low income communities, the area has seen a slight impact on crime but little negative change to property values. In fact, while some may argue that Flour Bluff is largely a low income hotspot, the numbers speak for themselves.

43.6 % of Flour Bluff High School’s enrollment is considered to be economically disadvantaged, according to recent data made available by the Texas Education Agency. For a student to be defined as "economically disadvantaged,” he or she must be eligible for free or reduced-price lunch or on another form of public assistance such as food stamps. District wide, some 54% of the enrollment is considered economically disadvantaged.

38.8% of students enrolled at Flour Bluff High School are considered by TEA as being at risk of dropping out of school. As a whole, 44% of students district wide are at risk of dropping out.

Over at Veterans Memorial High School the numbers are only slightly different. Some 42% of their students identify as being economically disadvantaged and the number of students at risk of dropping out is 41.5%. CCISD as a whole sees some 77% of their total enrollment as being economically disadvantaged. However, CCISD encompasses a vastly larger section of economically diverse communities, unlike Flour Bluff.

So while the education argument may very well be in place as this new low income community moves into the south side, the numbers seem to say that locally, in areas where low income housing is dominant, the outcome marginally changes at all. But that will likely not cure any fears from existing area residents.

The developers of the new complex say that they hope to have families moving in within the next few months.

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