HUD Moves to Integrate Housing Project in Texas
UNDER the cover of darkness, moving vans rolled early yesterday into an all-white housing project that was seized by federal officials after an earlier integration attempt failed.
Several Housing and Urban Development (HUD) cars began arriving at the complex at 5:30 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, three moving vans arrived, followed by at least three carloads of black motorists.
This is the second attempt to integrate the public-housing project, one of several segregated projects in southeast Texas. A lawsuit was filed against HUD officials in 1980 to force HUD to integrate all-white and all-black units.
Last year, four black families were moved into the complex, but by Sept. 1 all had moved out, saying racial intolerance had forced them to flee from the project in the one-time Ku Klux Klan stronghold.
Security was tight at the only entrance to the project, with four Vidor police officers manning a checkpoint. Only HUD officials and project residents were allowed inside. The 74-unit complex has 15 empty units, HUD officials said Wednesday. They refused to say how many will be filled with black residents.
In September, HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros promised that at least 10 to 12 black families would be placed here. He made the promise after seizing control of the project from local officials.
The HUD secretary also promised to make improvements in the project, but by Wednesday, only some landscape work had been done and a five-washer laundry unit had been added.
Bill Simpson, the last black to move out, was murdered one day after moving out in September. Police say Mr. Simpson was the victim of a random robbery attempt. Vidor is located 10 miles east of Beaumont, Texas, where the slaying occurred.