Jarvis Johnson Says No to $12.5 Million

Council Member Jarvis Johnson recently came under fire for being against $12.5 million of federal funds for the Linda Vista apartments – in his district!  These federal dollars are ready to go to fix up this 500 unit apartment complex which is currently in pretty bad shape.  Those living there would love to see improvements, and all it needed was City Council approval.  In 2009, CM Johnson wrote a letter stating that he “happily recommends” this complex to receive the grant (see here) , so why is he against it now?
Here it is in his own words:
So CM Johnson says that it will not directly benefit the people of District B because the money will go to out of state developers and to the out of state complex owner.  He also says the renovation basically just puts up a new coat of paint (for $12.5 million????) and won’t do anything to reduce crime in the area.
In the end, CM Johnson doesn’t want this money to go back to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Rather, he wants to see this money come back to the development under better terms that includes local businesses.  Now he just has to hope that this gamble pays off and that the money does indeed come back to the complex and doesn’t die in the black hole that is federal funds.
A lot of people have been giving CM Johnson grief about his decision.  He and I don’t often agree, but in this case, I think he is actually looking out for Houstonians.  Why should out of state companies be the ones to do the work when there are plenty of reasonably priced companies locally? A lot of comments to news articles online state that he probably has contractor friends he is trying to pay off.  Well even if that is true, there are so many less public construction projects going on right now that he could use to “pay off” his friends.  Maybe it’s just me always looking for the best in people, but why else would he fight for something so publically making so many people upset unless he believed it is right?
The real issue here is: why is the federal government giving $12.5 MILLION to fix ONE complex??  Really??


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