Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Good morning. My name is Kristen Clarke and I am the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.
Today we are here to announce that the Civil Rights Division and US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas are opening an investigation to determine whether the City of Houston, Texas, is complying with the nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This important federal civil rights law prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin in their programs or activities. The investigation we are launching today will be focused on the City’s response to reports of illegal dumping, including the 311 Houston Service Helpline system.
The investigation is prompted by a complaint sent to the Justice Department from Lone Star Legal Aid. The complaint alleges that the City of Houston engages in race and national origin discrimination against a predominately Black and Latino area in Northeast Houston — Houston’s Trinity/Houston Gardens Super Neighborhood 48. The complaint set forth complaints by residents in the upper Neighborhood 48 who frequently make calls complaining about the illegal dumping of household furniture, mattresses, tires, medical waste, trash, dead bodies, and vandalized ATM machines and other items dumped and abandoned in their community. The complaint alleges that the City’s denial of services, failure to enforce municipal codes and permit restrictions, and failure to adequately and equitably respond to illegal dumpsite concerns and service requests threaten the health and safety of Black and Latino people in Houston. These alleged acts also devalue the real property of Black and Latino Houstonians in violation of Title VI.
Data compiled by the City shows that a high concentration of the illegal dumping occurring