Friday, November 16, 2007

Response to Janna's Stage 5

I understand the point of view Janna Stage 5 is taking on the issue of Lions Municipal Golf Course being proposed to be developed into an apartment building.Yes, it would be helpful for the the community if University of Texas decide to build an affordable apartment building; but the question should be; are they going to build affordable housing on such a high demand area? It is unlikely. While most apartments around the school , especially in the west campus area, are being demolished so that high-end apartments would be built in their place, it is almost naivety on her part to think they would build affordable apartment housing once the golf course is gone. In addition, Janna failed to mention the aesthetic value of the golf course to the city and the surrounding area. One clear benefit that comes from having a beautiful golf course in the neighbourhood is that the houses sell for a steeper value than the market would dictate if there were no golf course in the area. Take the golf course away, the value of the houses drop significantly. In the end, an apartment that meant to help the families of the area would end up costing them dearly.
On the other side, I can understand the need for affordable housing. While the population of the city of Austin is growing exponentially, the housing development seems to lag behind. Anything that alleviates the problem would be greatly appreciated. So, I value one good point Janna made in her argument. If UT would build affordable housing complexes and agree to build another golf course nearby, it would be a worthwhile goal to pursue. Even in that kind of scenario, the community should actively encouraged to participate in the decision making process. However, as I have said, I don’t believe they will let go of the chance of making millions of dollars just because it wouldn’t anger the community.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Agency slow to hand out Texas hurricane aid

Article Link

It has been 3 years since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi making Texas to be the home for the majority of the evacuees from New Orleans. Followed by Rita the evacuees have been under stress by problems created by the displacement of their residence, most importantly their families.

After the hurricane had passed all there has been was pure desolation, with out their home they were faced with several issues including the inadequate amount of money for living. The response from FEMA in the early stages was to hand out the money loaded debit cards to the individuals who presented with an ID card, which resulted disastrously, the people who needed the most help were turned back for lack of identification or they were just too far away from the centers for this type of aid.

Fast forward a year on May of 2006, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs was awarded $42.6 million to help with the hurricane, in which the money was to be allocated to repair/ rebuild the damaged homes, four months later in September, only 13 homes have been built and 1.1 million dollars spent in the project; Unsatisfying more than 4000 families who have applied for this particular aid.

Came April of 2007 there was another addition money awarded to Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, 428 million dollars for hurricane recovery programs. With this amount of money many would say yes we can recover the damages done by both Katrina and Rita. But things are going as slow as it can get the money does not have a chance to be allocated to the families in need until the early months of 2008 because of a not finished contract with a firm that will be building the homes of the evacuees. What I don’t understand is not how long the families have been waiting but rather how we let it happen as individuals to be part of a society who is in charge of this decision making ladders.

We have moved on hearing about the news and the catastrophic state the hurricane has left these places, but we must not forget this could have happened to us, to our family. Once we have that mentality in our head may be things will go faster for all those families who have to move away from their home, their neighborhoods, and their beloved cities. I think it is time for evacuees to have some peaceful time I think they have see enough of this hardship it is time for all of us to carry a part, allocate the money swiftly for them to rebuild their homes.