The Houston City Council voted to pass $5 million for the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens reallocation fund.
What this $5 million means now is that anyone living in these areas that want to voluntary move out will get financial assistance from the city to do so.
However, there are 41 residential properties, and this amount will not cover all of them.
Residents and local leaders have long blamed the high number of cancer cases on contamination from a rail yard originally owned by Southern Pacific and later bought by Union Pacific near two historically Black neighborhoods.
Union Pacific says more testing is still needed to make “informed decisions” about further action. Mayor Sylvester Turner said Houston “has a moral obligation” to help relocate residents.
“That’s the worse condition that you can find yourself in, when you have loved ones or family members or children that are diagnosed and dying of cancer and you feel as though you’re just stuck, while you continue to fight to get the attention of others, or in this case, ask (Union Pacific) to step up,” Turner said.
Turner said relocating families from among the 100 properties that have been affected by the contamination could cost up to $35 million. The city is looking at other sources, including federal funding, to help pay for the relocation program.
The railroad has said that additional testing is needed to accurately determine the “true extent and source” of the contamination in the neighborhoods.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.