By Ruth Martinez
From the streets to the alleyways, houses and parks, the city of Amarillo continues to neglect the north side of town. Poverty and crime rates are also high, with approximately 8 ‘homeless shelters’ on the north side of I-40 according to www.homelessshelterdirectory.org.
It’s time for this north side neglect to end.
In the past few years, studies have been done on neighborhoods on the north side. Some include Hamlet, San Jacinto, North Heights, Barrio and some on the east side. According to Texashousers.org, in 2018, about 30 to 40 percent of the households in the Barrio, San Jacinto and the North Heights neighborhoods fell below the poverty line.
The website also mentioned Adam Pirtle, the Northwest Texas Co-Director for Texas Housers, a fair housing and civil rights advocacy group, said he has seen Amarillo prosper and grow but he has also seen the downside. “Because of historic patterns of segregation, this prosperity hasn’t been shared across the city. Low-income residents, especially low-income communities of color have for the most part been locked out of this growth and opportunities for this great city,” he said.
Crime is common in north-side neighborhoods. On Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2020, shots were fired around 5:51 p.m. during a sports event. Many calls were made to the police department, but, according to newschannel10.com, officers were responding to other calls and did not arrive at the shooting until 6:52 p.m. This is an example of how the Amarillo Police Department places a lower priority on the north side.
Good things do happen for the north side community, like the recognition of North Heights and Barrio with their street signs now on display in many intersections. Snack Pak for Kids has impacted many children in these neighborhoods. The Hodgetown stadium has made downtown a much bigger attraction and as well as the Embassy Suites by Hilton. Palo Duro High School, located on the north side near Amarillo Boulevard, is close to many residents’ hearts and many of the school’s graduates continue to live in the neighborhood.
What needs to change is neighborhood equity. The north side needs to look just like the south side. The alleyways need to be paved, more trash bins need to be provided and the community deserves better roads without potholes. Downtown might look pretty, but the neighborhoods surrounding it are needing attention. We all should speak out against north side neglect.