Houston’s Third Ward is changing, but not everyone thinks it’s for the best.
Some residents fear the historically black community is being “whitewashed” into something unrecognizable from its roots and landmarks, including Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke, and the newly-revitalized Emancipation Park.
According to the Houston Press, new economic initiatives allegedly aimed at improving businesses in the community are creating a new and uneasy environment for the once family-oriented neighborhood.
Third Ward natives and long-time residents are worried they’ll be pushed out by unaffordable housing built under the guise of community improvement:
“What do I do when the bus lines no longer are in walking distance from my home?” 31-year-old community member, Cuney Homes, told the Press. “Because the first thing they do when they wanna clean it up is start to cut out public transportation and that forces us out of here.” Cuney Homes is a newer complex near two college campuses in downtown, and home to many college students as well as longtime Third Ward residents.
For its part, the Emancipation Economic Development Council (EEDC) says it does not intend for people to be shoved out of their homes.
In a statement on the ongoing concerns, Community Coordinator Bianca Mahmood said the EEDC is actively planning to prevent these worst case scenarios from happening in the Third Ward as improvements are made.