Alazan-Apache Courts: A New Deal Response
to Mexican American Housing Conditions in
DONALD L. ZELMAN*
T HE ALAZAN-APACHE COURTS WERE A PUBLIC HOUSING PROJECT BUILT
in San Antonio's predominantly Mexican West side during the
late 1930s. Financed primarily with New Deal funds, they were ex-
pected to help alleviate the deplorable housing situation that had long
plagued San Antonio's Mexican community. Because the housing
needs of the city's Mexican population were so extreme, the com-
pleted courts would not benefit all in need. Still, the housing project
brought comfort to the fortunate ones allotted tenancy, and increased
awareness of the needs of San Antonio's Mexican American popu-
A study of the Alazan-Apache Courts has implications beyond local
history. It deals with an area in Mexican American history that has
not been adequately discussed, and it covers social and political issues
of state and national scope. Most studies of Mexicans in the 193os deal
with repatriation or with Mexican living and working conditions, and
they have focused largely on the California scene. This has left a gap in
the history of Mexicans and welfare-particularly the relationship be-
tween the Mexican community and the New Deal. It also has left the
history of the Mexicans in depression-era Texas largely unexplored1
*Donald L. Zelman is associate professor of history at Tarleton State University.
1There are laudable histories of Mexicans in depression Texas; however, they deal with
Mexicans and aspects of relief as secondary issues. Particularly noteworthy studies include
Selden C. Menefee and Orin C. Cassmore, The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio: The Prob-
lem of Underpaid and Unemployed Mexican Labor (Washington, D.C., 1940); Selden C.
Menefee, Mexican Migratory Workers of South Texas (Washington, D.C., 1941); Johnnie
C. McCain, "Mexican Labor in San Antonio, Texas, 19oo-194o" (1971, in author's posses-
sion). Harold Arthur Shapiro, "The Workers of San Antonio, Texas, 19oo-1940" (Ph.D.
diss., University of Texas, 1952) is a thorough discussion of the Mexican situation in San
Antonio; however, here again, the nature of the topic detracts from a concentrated discus-
sion of Mexicans on relief. Mark Reisler, By the Sweat of Their Brow: Mexican Immigrant
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/. Accessed May 27, 2015.