HOUSTON (KIAH) — The City of Houston and the Department of Justice reached an agreement this week on an investigation into illegal dumping in the city’s minority neighborhoods.

The DOJ and the city announced that the agreement will build upon the One Clean Houston initiative, a plan that will be used to help combat illegal dumping across the city and develop improved waste management services for city residents.

“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.”

The DOJ launched its investigation in July of 2022 after receiving a civil rights complaint from Houston residents in the Trinty and Houston Gardens neighborhood of northeastern Houston, who claimed they were being discriminated against because the neighborhood was made of mostly Black and Latino residents.

The investigation lasted 10 months, while the city announced its One Clean Houston initiative. One Clean Houston focuses on rapid cleanup, better enforcement, and prevention and education. In addition to confirming the City’s commitment to One Clean Houston, the agreement establishes a three-year period of federal monitoring; data reporting obligations; enhanced community outreach with impacted neighborhoods, including engagement with residents with limited English proficiency; consideration of additional actions to combat commercial sources of illegal dumping and reduce restrictions for residents seeking to use waste depositories; and a federal civil rights training program for specified City employees.

“No one should have to live next to discarded tires, bags of trash, rotting carcasses, infected soils and contaminated groundwater, all caused by illegal dumping,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “For too long now Houston’s underserved and low-income communities have had to bear the health burdens of the inaction and misdeeds of others. My hope is that this resolution is an important step in remedying those wrongs.”