June 6, 2023 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner and U. S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke announced a voluntary resolution agreement concluding the Department of Justice's investigation into the City of Houston's response to illegal dumping. U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani for the Southern District of Texas also attended the important announcement.
The resolution agreement is a testament to the One Clean Houston initiative launched by Mayor Turner in March 2023, which aims to combat illegal dumping especially in Black and Brown communities and uphold environmental stewardship within the city.
"To me, this is personal. I grew up and still live in these neighborhoods, and my life's work has been to lift these neighborhoods. As mayor, I prioritized the needs of communities of color that are historically under-resourced and underserved and built a Complete Communities program that is a model for public-private investment in neighborhood revitalization. I have worked throughout my administration to fight environmental injustice, and to have an allegation like this, despite all we have done and are doing, it is unfair and disappointing," said Mayor Turner. "With this voluntary resolution, we agree with the Department of Justice to move together as partners towards a solution - to carry forward a shared vision of One Clean Houston. Today's announcement isn't a time to celebrate, but we can appreciate progress."
In a separate statement, the DOJ and U.S. Attorney's Office said the agreement builds upon the city’s recently announced One Clean Houston initiative, a comprehensive plan to address pervasive illegal dumping and its negative impacts on the health, safety and quality of life of Houston residents. Today’s agreement memorializes the city’s cooperation with the Justice Department as it implements these new steps to combat illegal dumping and develops improved waste management services for residents across Houston.
"Houston’s illegal dumpsites have contaminated water and soil, attracted vermin and created blight in historically under-resourced neighborhoods across the city,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “I appreciate Mayor Turner’s leadership in addressing these concerns and his resolve in developing One Clean Houston. This agreement will ensure that Houston fully addresses chronic illegal dumpsites, provides access to adequate waste management services and improves quality of life in communities of color. The Justice Department will continue advancing environmental justice and ensuring that people of color across our nation live in safe, clean and healthy communities.”
In addition to the resolution agreement, city officials unveiled a comprehensive Community Toolkit in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese designed to provide community members with essential information and resources to participate actively in the fight against illegal dumping. The toolkit offers a range of practical tools, guidance, and educational materials that empower residents to take decisive action in maintaining a clean and sustainable environment.
The One Clean Houston initiative focuses on three key areas to address the issue and clean up Houston's neighborhoods, especially areas repeatedly targeted by individuals committing illegal dumping.
The full plan and more information regarding One Clean Houston can be found at https://www.houstontx.gov/onecleanhouston.
During the news conference, Mayor Turner asked people, if they see something, to say something! Anyone can submit a tip anonymously to Crime Stoppers and be eligible for a cash award of up to $5,000 – (Call 713.222.TIPS or report online at Crime-stoppers.org). You can now provide tips directly to police through the online crime reporting form on HPD's homepage or the Rat-on-a-Rat Hotline 713.525.2728.