A Little Louder is a podcast by Texas Housers, hosted by John Henneberger and Christina Rosales. We talk about fair housing, community development and community efforts to work toward just cities and inclusive neighborhoods.
More than one-third of households in Texas are renters, and in Austin, more than half of residents rent their homes. With those kinds of numbers, it's a wonder why the Texas Legislature has failed to strengthen tenant protections. As a result, too many Texans live in dangerous apartments that some landlords have failed to maintain or repair. A shortage of affordable housing leaves tenants to endure poor living conditions, and worse, too many Texans face eviction and displacement because of a lack of housing protection. For episode 18, Texas Housers talked to tenants in Austin who are demanding that landlords, city officials, and fellow Texans pay attention to the power of renters and support a movement that centers human dignity in all housing. Interviews with Austin tenants include Divina, Jeff and Jeanne. Additional interviews include Austin City Council Member Greg Casar and BASTA project director Shoshana Krieger.
In 1915, Independence Heights was the first town incorporated by African Americans in the state of Texas. For more than a decade, it was a self-sufficient town that could control its own destiny. When the City of Houston annexed the town in 1929, so began the threat of erasure of the historic neighborhood. Over the decades, Independence Heights was cut off from the rest of Houston by highways, which both segregated the area and destroyed some of its footprint. Today, another threat is imminent. TxDOT is proposing an expansion to Interstate 45. But Independence Heights will not stand for its value, legacy, and residents to be overlooked yet again. Texas Housers interviewed Tanya Debose, executive director of the Independence Heights Redevelopment Council, and the neighborhoods attorney Amy Dinn, Managing Attorney on the Environmental Justice Team at Lone Star Legal Aid, and historians Aimee VonBokel at Lone Star Legal Aid and Kyle Shelton of the Kinder Institute.
Read the complaint by Lone Star Legal Aid: https://lonestarlegal.blog/2019/06/07/txdots-historical-resources-report-omits-houstons-independence-heights/
Transcript of Episode 17
When the U.S. government designed postwar housing policy and subsidized massive developments and suburbs, it created a strong middle class. The American dream became synonymous with homeownership. But the U.S. government deliberately left out Black Americans, systematizing racist ideals into U.S. housing policy that has left too many people behind. Giorgio Angelini, director of the film Owned: A Tale of Two Americas, explores these themes and how the commodification of housing has distorted communities and the American ideals of opportunity and integration. Texas Housers sat down for an interview with Angelini after his film screening in Austin, Texas. Check out Owned here.
Transcript of Episode 16
If you want to change law and policy, you have to change people's minds. And to change people's minds, you have to change how they feel. Arts and music can evoke, inspire, and move people to action in ways that even the best lectures, policy briefs, and compelling facts and statistics can't. Episode 15 is about how a community came together to write and produce a conjunto music album called Sonido del Agua, rooted in their experiences with deluge, drainage, and fighting to get the infrastructure to protect them from the next flood. Find the full album here: https://soundcloud.com/bcworkshop
Transcript of Episode 15
This is a story about drainage infrastructure in the Rio Grande Valley. But really, it's about injustice, inequality, and a community's fight to get what they deserve: protection from dangerous flooding. Episode 14 of A Little Louder takes a deep dive into the multi-year drainage campaign that improved infrastructure for multiple colonias in the Rio Grande Valley. Texas Housers interviews community leaders Alberta Ramirez and Ana Maria Gonzalez, former Texas Houser Josué Ramirez, and LUPE organizing coordinator Martha Sanchez.
Transcript of Episode 14
More than two dozen people have put their hat in the ring and declared their candidacy for the presidency. With so many candidates, there's a spectrum of domestic and international policy proposals. On this podcast, we take a look at what each candidate has said about their stances on affordable housing, homeownership, tenant protections, fair housing and addressing homelessness. (Note: This is our last episode of season 1 of A Little Louder)
Transcript for Episode 13
Juneteenth is soon approaching in a few days, and in honor of the holiday, we spoke about the preservation of Black neighborhoods which date back more than a century ago.
Joining us on Episode 12 is Dr. Andrea Roberts of the Texas Freedom Colonies Project. She spoke with us about the often missed distinction between freedman's towns and freedom colonies, the history of these neighborhoods, what needs to be done to ensure they thrive, and much more.
To learn more in person about Texas Freedom Colonies, you can attend the “Aya” Symposium featuring a special training session, “Education – THE Foundation for Civil Rights in Texas Freedom Colonies” on June 19 at Prairie View A&M University, or you can visit the Texas Purple Hull Pea Festival in Shankleville, TX, a historic freedom colony, on June 29. http://shankleville.org/txphpfest/
Transcript of Episode 12
The Low Income Housing Tax Credit program is helping to produce most of the new affordable housing in our country. But why is the IRS involved with creating affordable housing? And who gets left behind when this housing subsidy is not targeting the lowest-income people? In episode 11, John and Christina talk to Texas Housers analyst J.T. Harechmak about how tax credits work and the implications of a program often driven by business interests.
Links to articles discussed: It's Nimby Time...Again by Texas Housers
Program to Spur Low-Income Housing Keeps Cities Segregated by the New York Times
Transcript for Episode 11
In episode 10, Texas Housers breaks down HUD's new proposed rule to evict families from subsidized housing if a member of the family is an immigrant without legal status. Christina and John interview Mike Gerber and Michael Roth of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin about how the rule could affect their operations, and Elizabeth Almanza of American Gateways who explains how this proposal could have a chilling effect on immigrant communities.
Transcript of Episode 10
Since Hurricane Ike hit Galveston in 2008, critical public housing units have been lost and never rebuilt. Add the shortage of apartments and homes affordable to many people working service jobs on the island, and this is the making of a housing crisis. On top of that, a housing complex subsidized by the federal government has failed to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing, according to its residents. Texas Housers talks to community navigator Ericka Bowman who has been engaging Sandpiper residents, as well as Sarah Smith of the Houston Chronicle about her coverage of the apartment complex. John and Christina also discuss a language justice campaign in the Rio Grande Valley.
Transcript of Episode 9
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is one of the longest-running programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. When it works well, it has the potential to address poverty and blight and revitalize communities in ways that reflect the priorities of the people who live there. But sometimes, too many political interests and not enough oversight plague the effectiveness of the program. John Henneberger and Karen Paup, co-directors of Texas Housers, discuss how advocates and community members can help steer CDBG back on track to its original goals to serve low-income communities.
Transcript of Episode 8
In episode 7, Texas Housers interviews members of the 10th Street Residential Association who discuss their experience in preserving their historical status and their continued struggle to ensure the future of their neighborhood, settled more than a century ago by freed slaves. The neighborhood group has filed a lawsuit against the City of Dallas, asserting that "[t]he City of Dallas's policies and practices have racially segregated the Tenth Street neighborhood for many decades." The community is asking for the same privileges and investment other historical white neighborhoods in Dallas have received.
Transcript for Episode 7
In episode 6, Texas Housers highlights some noteworthy housing bills proposed in the 2019 legislative session. Some promote quality housing and tenant rights. Others not so much. We also discuss low-income housing tax credit corruption and shortages in affordable housing.
Transcript for Episode 6
In episode 5, we take a deep dive into how segregation caused Black and Latino neighborhoods to be trapped near industry and pollution. We talk to residents fighting for environmental justice.
Transcript of Episode 5
In episode 4, Texas Housers discusses the importance of housing mobility and how where you live can change the trajectory of your life. We interview Beth Legg, a fair housing planner, and Martha Sanchez, an organizer in the Rio Grande Valley.
Transcript of Episode 4
In episode 3, Texas Housers discusses how disaster recovery can be vastly improved by a "precovery" plan – that is, planning for recovery, even before the natural disaster hits. A bill proposed in the Texas legislature could help communities do just that. Guests include: Houston resident Deetra Harris; Nick Mitchell-Bennett, executive director of the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville; and Professor Shannon Van Zandt of the Texas A&M Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center.
Transcript of Episode 3
In episode 2, Demetria McCain of the Inclusive Communities Project talks about integration and people's right to choose where to live. John and Christina discuss how private equity is changing homeownership and the real crisis at the border.
Transcript for Episode 2
In A Little Louder's first episode, we discuss Opportunity Zones, freedmen's settlement north of Houston struggling with attrition and lack of investment, and how Austin's Clarksville has changed from a culturally rooted freedmen's settlement with no roads or public lighting into a white, affluent neighborhood near downtown Austin.
Transcript for Episode 1