Environmental Injustice Strikes South Phoenix

            A few weeks ago, Mr. Young told the class about how the South Mountain Village Community Planners had allocated a few lots at 16th st. and Broadway for high density, low income houses. This act was portrayed as a generous one by Mr. Young. I was a bit confused on the nature of this gesture. Was Mr. Young trying to make the South Phoenix Plans conform to the entrenched community? Was he trying to save face for a group that has caught some heat for gentrification practices?

            Driving down to that area a few hours after that lecture, I discovered four things. The first was an empty lot. This was a little odd, because most empty lots around here have some hint of development. This one had none. Second, I saw some sort of office building. This building only has one noticeable feature, the truck entrance and exit. There were large driveways, but they weren’t being used in the middle of the day. Fourth, I saw the new two story houses built for single mothers. These houses had virtually no room in between them. Lastly, there was a string of newer looking houses. These houses were very small and shared walls with each other.

            These houses on this corner were all very small, very close together. Mr. Young specifically said these houses were for the locals. There just seemed to be something not adding up here. The reason behind these houses existing seemed non sincere. Mr. Brittle had the answer.

            Mr. Brittle is an environmental justice advocate. He identifies areas of low socioeconomic status and helps these people fight off the deliberate murder of the environment in the area. This murder comes in the form of industry by product, dumping, and natural resource abuse. Brittle talked about a number of incidents in South Phoenix that greatly hurt the health of the environment and the people of the area.

             The one thing that jumped out at me was the TWO fires that occurred at 16th st and Broadway. Both were fires that used very hazardous computer parts as fuel. The resulting fumes from the fire actually killed people in the area because nothing was done to protect these people either before the fire through safety measures, or after the fire via medical response. This was covered in Brittle’s “Mortality in the Area Affected by the QPC Fire.” Brittle points to a 10% increase in the number of deaths in the area after the latest QPC fire.

               So, knowing what Brittle said, it is now clear why this area is used as cheap housing. Its because no one will pay for this land to be used for expensive houses. This area is damaged, and still has a hazardous chemical using place on the corner. In this case, not only is a clear case of environmental injustice occurring, but the South Mountain Village Plan is calling for the corralling of people into an area that is “given” away at the cost of environmental and personal health.





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