Full Show

Racial Quotas in Housing and “Deli Man” Ziggy Gruber: Thursday’s show (February 26, 2015)

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit challenging decisions by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The department awarded tax credits for low-income housing in Dallas to encourage new affordable housing in blighted areas using race-neutral criteria. A group called the Inclusive Communities Project sued, saying the agency approved more applications in […]


The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit challenging decisions by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The department awarded tax credits for low-income housing in Dallas to encourage new affordable housing in blighted areas using race-neutral criteria. A group called the Inclusive Communities Project sued, saying the agency approved more applications in minority neighborhoods than in affluent, white neighborhoods. The group argues this is the equivalent of intentional racial segregation. The department, of course, disagrees.

There have been a number of amicus (“friend of the court”) briefs filed on this, on both sides. Some allege that if the High Court should side with the Inclusive Communities project, it might, in essence, lead to a requirement of racial quotas in housing. And underlying this case is a basic question: What do civil rights really establish – a fair playing field, or a proportionate result?

On this edition of Houston Matters, we discuss the case with Michael Lindenberger, Washington correspondent for business for the Dallas Morning News, and Craig Jackson, a Professor of Law at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.

Then we consider whether there’s unintended segregation in housing by race or class – or both – here in Houston. We welcome your thoughts for Susan Rogers, Professor of Architecture at the University of Houston, and Assata Richards, Board Vice Chair for the Houston Housing Authority and Program Director for Project Row Houses. She’s also Director of the Sankofa Research Institute.

Also this hour: On Friday (2/27/15), the new documentary Deli Man opens nationwide, including here in Houston at the River Oaks Theatre.

The film tells the story of the American delicatessen, largely through a Houston guide – Ziggy Gruber, a third-generation deli man, and the owner and operator of Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen.

We sit down with Ziggy Gruber at Kenny & Ziggy’s to talk about the state of traditional Kosher-style delis here in Houston and across the country.

Plus: In the early 1800s in Texas, the law of the land required any freed slave to carry documentation on them at all times proving their free status. There were some who tried to profit from the law by trying to re-enslave those caught without their paperwork – as if they were unclaimed property.

Recently discovered Harris County court documents from that time period shed light on the plight of freed slaves in early Houston through the lens of Nelly Norris – a freed slave who successfully fended off two attempts to re-enslave her.

Her story was one of several told recently at a Black History Month event at the Harris County Courthouse. We talk with Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel about the saga of Nelly Norris, and how archived court documents can shed light on otherwise forgotten stories like hers.

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