Letters: Wednesday, March 31, 2005
Support Apartment Dwellers

To the editor: I had some strong reactions to Jeff Prince’s story (“Fear and Loathing in Woodhaven,” Feb. 23, 2005). The characterizations of Woodhaven by outsiders and by residents both have valid points. I delivered pizza for about nine months in Woodhaven and lived there for about five months. I am white, but I have lived in poor neighborhoods of other cities, and my experiences in Woodhaven were not based in fear or prejudice.
The pizza company I worked for experienced many robberies and much violence in the apartment complexes on Boca Raton between Woodhaven Boulevard and Bridgewood Drive. The crimes affected all races and both sexes of delivery drivers. Certain apartment complexes were blacklisted from delivery due to these incidents. Although I never feared for my own safety, people did occasionally try to intimidate me. However, most of the time I found that friendliness was returned in kind.
My move there was a result of needing inexpensive housing without having to live “in the ghetto.” I think this is key when considering the future of Woodhaven. I know of few options for inexpensive housing that do not involve being in a sprawl of filth and crime. These places need to exist for the good of humanity and the bettering of the low-income population. Yes, low-income housing will draw transients and individuals who can be described as “low-rent.” Surely it’s easier to fix problems in a compact neighborhood than in a less-concentrated area. I was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the actual apartment and grounds. In the glimpses I got, many residents’ homes were clean and well-kept.
I was, however, greatly disturbed by a few things: Drugs are everywhere — in fact, the easiest place to get them is around the police station near the corner of Oakwood and Boca Raton, where I saw drugs being used and sold every day. I remember pulling up there and watching a group of boys about 12 to14 years old light up a joint in broad daylight; with them was a girl of about 8. I went to the police station and told them. I waited. Nothing was done. The police themselves were basically invisible — although I did get pulled over once at 8 a.m. because my passenger wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
So what does Woodhaven have going for it? There is its sense of community and brotherhood, as is frequently seen in low-income areas. People stick together, eat together, play together. Children are raised by the community, not just their parents. There is a library easily accessible, and public transportation, which is scarce in most “nicer” neighborhoods in Tarrant County. The corner store at Oakwood and Boca Raton does not sell alcohol. Eastern Hills High School has a good reputation with parents.
Other questions: How were Woodhaven residents notified of the meeting at the library? Pardon the generalization, but why would a bunch of low-income African-Americans who probably never felt they had much influence or even recognition as valuable citizens show up at such a meeting? And if the apartment complexes are torn down, where do supporters of that action think the former residents will live? Do they plan on helping them get good jobs and transportation to move to a better place?
I would like to see the Allied Communities of Tarrant County (ACT) get involved here to help Woodhaven apartment-dwellers learn how to protect their homes, get police to take action on the crime that does exist there, and take advantage of community programs and services. This is an opportunity for all involved to make a positive difference instead of creating more struggles.

Kim Schmidt, Hurst

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