For more than 40 years, it has occupied a prime chunk of public real estate near River Oaks caring for, employing and housing the mentally retarded.
But now the city of Houston is planning to sell the land to the highest bidder, meaning the nonprofit Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation has to find a new home.
Why would the city force agroup providing services to the most helpless among us to uproot lives and spend money not on serving the helpless but upon buildings and infrastructure in a “less desirable” location?
The first argument, made by the city administration, is for the money. Potential property tax money that is. If so, they need to rework their spreadsheets. If the numbers in the article are correct and the land has a market value of $26 million, the city’s annual revenue would be roughly $170,000. The center is currently providing over $1 million a year in free services to city residents. It would take $130 million in improvements for the city to break even. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
There is a clue provided in the article by a salivating real estate broker.
“That’s Class A. It doesn’t get any better,” said Creech, who thinks the land would be choice for high-rise condominiums, in large part because of the unobstructed view of downtown to the east and River Oaks to the west.
Exactly what the city needs. More condos, requiring more sewer capacity, more trash pickups, etc.. Meanwhile, when I visited the center yesterday, the streets in the surrounding neighborhoods were in complete disrepair, impossible to avoid potholes. But developers donate to campaigns and campaigns for governor are expensive.
But wait! It just isn’t fair says the city attorney.
And City Attorney Arturo Michel said it’s not fair to give such a sweetheart deal to one nonprofit. In fact, the city has begun reviewing similar deals with other nonprofits housed on public property.
Fair Mr. Michel? You want to talk about fair? Is life fair to the people that were born helpless, Mr. Michel? Are you so callous as to think that it is fair to turn helpless people away from help that costs you nothing? In the never ending search for more government revenue or political contributions?
Remember, it was the mayor’s own good heart that allowed thousands of helpless people from New Orleans to come into the city, soaking up resources and increasing crime. Why is his heart not the same when it comes to helpless people that do neither? How manycommendations has the mayor given to the people that give hope to the hopeless rather than fill our streets with violence, drugs and misogyny?
Why not do the right thing? Which is nothing. Nothing at all. Just renew the lease that was signed in good faith and let this group continue to help those that cannot help themselves. Doesn’t cost a penny to do the right thing.
This was published at Lonestartimes.com on April 2, 2007. LST’s archives are no longer online.