Freeport, TX – Lone Star Legal Aid’s Environmental Justice Team and the Showalter Law Firm are collectively working to prevent Port Freeport from easing its way into the Freeport East Enders’ historic working-class neighborhood, violating their civil rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The East Enders are reluctant to move or sell their properties as they are being offered nominal amounts, without the opportunity of getting their own appraisal. Their ownership right to their property is their primary wealth, which for many, is generational.
In a letter sent to several governmental agencies, LSLA attorney Amy Dinn, states that Port Freeport (“PF”) is intentionally and discriminatorily displacing residents to make room for expanded port facilities. And, from what it seems, the City of Freeport (“City”) is complicit with regard to all of this. The City has not been issuing any building permits, so the residents cannot make any maintenance repairs and is in talks about selling the nearby community park to the port.
How does this violate Title VI? Discriminatory acts. Here is how:
a. PF has tried to circumvent its obligations under the Uniform Relocation Act (URA);
b. PF has made Eminent Domain threats without following Eminent Domain procedures;
c. Property owners are not being given a chance to review an appraisal of the value of their property;
d. PF has contracted for non-comparable replacement housing; and
e. Other questionable acquisition acts and numerous, cumulative environmental impacts to the area.
The City of Freeport, a potential beneficiary of PF’s foreshadowed economic development, puts them in a supporting role – adverse to the Freeport East Enders. The City of Freeport has done little to develop the land near PF in the past 15 years, resulting in low property values. They’ve also refused permits, essentially barring residents from “fixing up” their homes. Over the years, the city has ordered that dilapidated properties be demolished. The property conditions though, result from the owners’ inability to make improvements. Bill Buckner Esq., a member of the Showalter Law Firm which specializes in protecting the rights of property owners, has been representing several East End residents to address the increasing abuse associated with the Port expansion. Buckner says, “the citizens of the East End community deserve a just and transparent process.”
LSLA’s Amy Dinn hopes that our involvement with the residents of the East End of Freeport results in bringing the City of Freeport and Port Freeport in compliance with the Uniform Relocation Act (“URA”) and Texas laws to ensure that property owners are getting just compensation and all relocation benefits they’re entitled to, making sure that all “swap” relocation transactions constitute actual – comparable replacement housing, and conditioning on all future grants from the federal government in attempt to prevent any future violation of Title VI or URA.
Based in Richmond, Texas, proudly serving the greater Houston metropolitan area, the Showalter Law firm is a team of experienced legal professionals who take the time to listen to our clients’ needs and concerns in order to provide the skilled representation needed. Whether it is an experienced real estate attorney, an aggressive business attorney, any type of personal injury, family law, eminent domain or wills, probate, and trusts, they provide thoughtful, aggressive legal counsel and representation, working diligently to translate their vast knowledge of law into a just outcome for each client. To learn more about the Showalter Law Firm, visit www.showalterlaw.com.
Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and also 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, such as those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.
Media contact: Clarissa Ayala