“For years, money for flood protection in the Houston area went mostly to richer neighborhoods. A new approach prioritizes minority communities, and it’s stirring up resentments.”
“Pleasantville, a few square miles of bungalows and industrial sites stuck between Houston’s railways and freeways, resembles a shallow bowl — quick to flood, like much of the city. But like other neighborhoods with large Black and Hispanic populations and low property values, it never qualified for the pricey flood-control projects that protect wealthier parts of Houston.
Projects here “would be put on a list, and that’s where they would go to die,” said Bridgette Murray, who is president of the Pleasantville neighborhood association and whose house got five feet of water during Hurricane Harvey.
Faced with countless complaints like these, officials in Harris County, which manages flood control in and around Houston, threw out their old approach for spending billions of dollars on flood defenses after Harvey. Instead of prioritizing spending to protect the most valuable property, which benefited wealthier and whiter areas, they decided to instead prioritize disadvantaged neighborhoods that would have the hardest time recovering, including communities of color.”