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Davis wades into Rosewood Courts controversy

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County Commissioner Ron Davis opined Tuesday on an issue causing some political dyspepsia at the city of Austin. What was otherwise the Commissioners Court’s official introduction to Patrick Howard, the new interim executive director of the Housing Authority of Travis County, became an opportunity for Davis to hold forth on the Rosewood Courts controversy. Built in 1939, the East Austin complex was the first public housing project in the nation built for African-American residents. Last week, the city’s Historic Landmark Commission failed to recommend historic zoning for the apartments, leaving the door open to planned redevelopment of the property. “What persons are afraid of – and I share their fear – is that whatever they end up doing, they will displace these persons out there and do what they want to do with the property,” Davis said. He urged Howard to work with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin, which supports the redevelopment plan at Rosewood Courts. Davis told him, “Folks are really going to be watching very close. This is going to be a pivotal point because there’s been so many people in this area that have been displaced. Gentrification has forced a lot of people out and a lot of other things. This is another piece of that gentrification.” Howard agreed that gentrification is a serious problem before adding, “I think that with such a great need for affordable housing, we have to continue to work on looking at creative ways to both look at expanding the supply of affordable housing while looking at trying to diversify neighborhoods and making them neighborhoods of choice as well.”

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