Capitalists Continue Making Decisions for Black Communities Despite Pushback

Third Ward and Fifth Ward, predominantly Black communities, are trying to fight gentrification and new developments with a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). Ideally this would work, only in both instances capitalists outside of the communities are positioned to make negotiating decisions on behalf of the Black communities. The planned developments are taking advantage of the current displacement caused by gentrification in these areas, and the city has intentionally left the Third Ward and Fifth Ward communities impacted out of the picture.

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The residents of Third Ward and Fifth Ward are already facing conditions that enable their displacement: food deserts, increasing property taxes, the allocation of public school funds to charters, drainage issues, and the list goes on.

As developers continue their unrestrained projects in Houston, terms like “urban renewal,” “revitalization,” “renewal,” and “revival” create marketing hype and manufactured consent around the developments solidifying the city’s role as an epicenter in this capitalist system. Anyone would welcome “revitalization” to their neighborhoods, but these communities already know these “revival” projects come with a price — displacement and cultural erasure. These projects are purposefully meant to colonize and remove the culture that is rooted there.

Below is a break down of what is happening in each ward as they respectively try to circumvent the capitalists making decisions for them.

Third Ward

Rice Management Company, on behalf of Rice University, is in the process of developing the Ion, the Innovation Corridor, and Greentown Labs in Third Ward. Mayor Sylvester Turner decided to install Andy Icken, the city’s chief development officer, to lead the developments of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) between Third Ward and Rice. Icken is not a resident of Third Ward, he lives in Humble, and Third Ward residents, specifically Houston Coalition for Equitable Development without Displacement (HCEDD), do not have a seat at the negotiating table of this CBA.

Read the full article on Third Ward, here.

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Fifth Ward

Fifth Ward residents, specifically the Circle Coalition formed by Our Afrikan Family, is trying be included in a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) already formed between the private developer, Midway, and the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 18 (TIRZ 18) regarding the East River Project. Midway’s chief operating officer sits on the TIRZ 18 board, so it’s Midway making a CBA with Midway and leaving residents out while the rest of the board is complacent.

Fifth Ward is also facing threats of displacement from the expansion of I-45.

Read the full article on Fifth Ward, here.

What is a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)?

“Vanishing Freedmen’s Town, Houston, Texas 1409091069bw” by Patrick Feller is licensed under CC BY 2.0