A Land Battle in Houston: Black homeowners protest HISD’s plans of eminent domain acquisition of property

A Land Battle in Houston: Black homeowners protest HISD’s plans of eminent domain acquisition of property


District gunning to take over 11 properties; residents showing resistance

by Jesse Muhammad

Homeowners in Fifth Ward are speaking out against Houston Independent School District’s (HISD) plan to use eminent domain to acquire their properties situated next to Dogan Elementary School.

HISD wants to expand the school but has yet to give clear information according to Council member Jarvis Johnson, who held a press conference on Sunday, October 11, 2009 in front of the home of 86-year-old Elizabeth Williams.

“These residents deserve some answers. There seems to be a lot of ambiguity and a lot of uncertainty,” said Council member Johnson.

“There is nobody standing here who is against expanding educational opportunities for our children but some questions need to be answered,” he said.

HISD sent out certified letters informing residents they had 14 days to accept their offer. This did not sit well with Ms. Williams, who has resided in her home for sixty years.

I got a short letter in the a mail saying they’ll give me 14 days to accept the offer and I said, ‘That’s not a lot of time’,” she told the media inside her home.

“I have been so depressed and sad,” said Ms. Williams, who is one of the 11 homeowners being targeted by HISD.

“So we are asking what is the plan for Dogan Elementary and for this particular community, so we may move forward, so that our community will have a better understanding of what’s going on,” said Council Member Johnson.

According to many of the residents, they are being offered unfair prices by HISD. The district has even used strong-arm tactics by sending an appraiser into the neighborhood with a police escort, according to Council member Johnson.

“The district would never use these types of “gangster-style moves” in River Oaks,” stated community activist Deric Muhammad.

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