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September 14, 2004
HUD RECOGNIZES 14 LOCAL COMMUNITIES FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
State of Texas Wins National Award for Accomplishments in the Colonias
WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced 14 communities are receiving HUD's Community Development Excellence Award for their outstanding work in using Community Development Block Grant funding to create better communities and to improve the lives of their lower income residents. HUD presented the awards during a two-day national conference in Washington to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Community Development Block Grant Program.
The State of Texas' Office of Rural Community Affairs was honored for its accomplishments in addressing the needs
of colonias residents. Texas has the largest number of colonias and the largest colonia resident population of any State in the country. A summary of its achievements is at the end of the release.
"These 14 communities are outstanding examples of how CDBG works," said HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson. "In a climate where results and performance count, these communities, and many others like them, are doing wonderful work building better neighborhoods and creating greater opportunities for their lower income residents."
In selecting these communities, HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development solicited recommendations
from the Department's field offices around the country. Each winning nominee represents a CDBG-funded project or initiative that has been completed, has completed a major phase, or has a proven track record of improving communities and benefiting the people who live in them, specifically lower income residents.
Background on CDBG
When President Gerald Ford signed the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 into law, state and local leaders around the country got a powerful new tool to help stimulate community development and job growth - the Community Development Block Grant Program. Thirty years later, CDBG continues to help more than a thousand communities to do what they could not accomplish themselves.
For the past 30 years, CDBG has awarded over $108 billion to state and local governments to target their own community development priorities. While, the rehabilitation of affordable housing has traditionally been the largest single use of the grants, CDBG is also an important catalyst for job growth and business opportunities. CDBG funds
are distributed by formula around the country based on a community's population, poverty levels, growth rate, housing overcrowding and the age of its housing stock.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership,
particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities
for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people
with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also
promotes economic and community development as well as
enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
Office of Rural Community Affairs and
Department of Housing & Community Affairs
For accomplishments in addressing the needs of Colonias residents
Colonias are rural communities and neighborhoods located within 150 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border that lack adequate infrastructure and other basic services. Colonias typically have high rates of poverty making it difficult for residents to pay for roads, sanitary water and sewer systems, decent housing, street lighting and other services. There are an estimated 2000 colonias in the border region. Texas has the largest number of colonia and the largest colonia resident population.
In 1991, Congress mandated that the four southwest border states must set aside up to 10 percent of their annual CDBG program allocations for activities that address the infrastructure and housing needs of colonias residents. HUD requires Texas to set aside the full 10 percent of its CDBG allocation for use in colonias. As Texas' annual CDBG allocation is over $80 million, this set-aside has provided nearly $114 million in CDBG resources for colonias over the past 14 years.
In dealing with the needs of its colonias residents, the State of Texas has chosen to go well beyond what Congress
or HUD requires. Texas law directs 12.5 percent of the State's CDBG program be used in colonias. The Office of Rural Community Affairs (ORCA) in conjunction with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) have worked hard to coordinate and maximize the delivery of other federal and state resources along with CDBG funds to improve the lives of colonia residents.
The State of Texas has an impressive track record of accomplishments. The state has funded more than 300
projects in the colonias using its CDBG funds. In addition, more than $38 million of HOME, State Housing Trust Fund and State Housing Bond Financing funds have been provided for colonia activities including:
- Home improvement loans
- Downpayment assistance for first-time homebuyers
- Loans for acquisition & construction of new owner-occupied housing
- Development of new affordable rental housing units
- Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
- Installation of first-time water and sewer service to colonias
- Installation of new wells and septic systems for homes
- Construction of community centers
- Planning activities
- Ongoing funding of 5 colonia self-help centers along the border
ORCA and TDHCA have worked with other state agencies such as the Attorney General's Office, the Water Development Board, and State Universities; with other federal agencies such as EPA and USDA; with FNMA and builders, to coordinate state initiatives as diverse as legal action against unscrupulous developers; promote
innovative house designs and building techniques; and to give colonia residents themselves a stake in the improvement of their communities, through self-help housing construction and infrastructure installation.
Much remains to be done in the border region; populations are growing and the estimated cost to address needs is astonishingly high. But the State of Texas is making things happen, and can point to hundreds of colonias in which they have already made a significant improvement in peoples' lives.