Riverside General Hospital in the Third Ward is part of Houston’s history.
Established in 1927, it was the city’s first hospital for black patients. However, allegations of Medicare fraud then financial struggles shut the facility down a couple years ago.
Now, neighbors are sad to see it in disrepair.
“People are squatting on the property, as well as in the abandoned vehicles. We’re very concerned that an eye sore like this will bring in more crime. This is a hiding place for criminals,” said Debbie White, a member of the Third Ward Community Watch.
However, White is most bothered by the medical supplies lying around unsecured. Police say anti-psychotics, muscle relaxers and depression medications were found in a trash can on the property in late April.
“The concern is it getting in the hands of the children. There are two schools right across the street from here, and there are a number of children that play in this area,” White said.
“It kind of saddens me to see it go to ruins, which is what I see happening right now,” said Deloyd Parker, a resident and Executive Director of S.H.A.P.E. Community Center. “Clean this place up. Secure this place until they make a decision about what’s going to happen with it.”
According to a spokesperson with the City of Houston, the Department of Public Works and Engineering, Houston Police Department, Health Department and Department of Neighborhoods first inspected the building on March 28.
On April 5, the Public Works Multifamily-Habitability Investigations Division had dangerous wires removed and posted a notice for the owner to secure the property.
Public Works records show the Multifamily-Habitability Investigations Division confirmed that the owners have secured the building.
However, a walkthrough of the property Monday revealed an open gate, several open doors, and two broken windows.
“If the community sees abandoned commercial buildings that are not secure, we ask that they please call 311,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works.
Third Ward residents say someone has to take responsibility.
“This is supposed to be a historical site. Maybe I’m being a little bit naive, but historical sites to me are something to be proud of,” White said.
“The fact is we need to do better than this, especially those in charge of it,” Parker said.
KHOU 11 News contacted members of the hospital board which controls the property several times via phone and email Monday and Tuesday. No one responded to requests for comment.