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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 98-573
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Tuesday
Or contact your local HUD officeOctober 27, 1998


BROWNSVILLE, TX - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today awarded $2.1 million to help create affordable housing that will be owned by about 280 families now living in severely substandard conditions in impoverished neighborhoods known as colonias in Cameron, Willacy, Webb, and Hidalgo Counties along the Texas-Mexico border.

Cuomo made the announcement as he toured colonias near Brownsville and Monte Alto and visited a housing group in San Juan, Texas, while on a three-day visit to the state. The assistance is part of $25 million that HUD is providing to poor rural and Native American communities across the nation to improve housing conditions and create jobs. A total of $5 million of the funds is set aside for a housing program known as the Colonias Initiative that enables poor working families - primarily low-paid farmworkers - along the U.S.-Mexico border to become homeowners.

"This assistance will quite literally transform the lives of families who are trapped in terrible poverty and living in conditions unfit for human habitation," Cuomo said. "It will turn homeownership from an impossible dream into a beautiful reality for many families who work hard in low-wage jobs that just don't pay enough to afford decent housing."

Colonia is a Spanish term for neighborhoods along the U.S.-Mexico border that are characterized by inadequate services, substandard, shanty-type shelters without water and sewer service, poor or non-existent streets, and high levels of unmanaged environmental pollution. The infrastructure needs of colonias are estimated to be nearly $1 billion.

Here is how the HUD assistance will be used:

  • The Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) will receive $800,000 from HUD to build affordable housing in five colonias in nearby Cameron and Willacy Counties through its Colonia Redevelopment Program. In particular, the CDCB will assist in the rehabilitation and construction of homes through self-help construction techniques. During the past 24 months, the program has rehabilitated or reconstructed more than 60 homes. Program participants earn at or below 50 percent of area median -- about $16,000 for a family of four. They are eligible for $15,000 home mortgage loans payable over 15 years at an interest rate of just 1 percent. CDCB's Colonia Program will partner with a local building supply company that provides donated materials for each job. Volunteer labor will be supplied by a local church organization and Youth Build Brownsville. Interim financing will be supplied by the Greater Brownsville Multibank Community Development Corp., at below-market rates. The partnership allows CDCB to reconstruct dilapidated homes for under $20,000.

  • Proyecto Azteca, a self-help housing organization based in San Juan, will receive $791,000 from HUD to provide affordable homes and financing packages for low-income colonias families and to provide contract-for-deed refinancing and conversions to mortgages for families in the South Tower Estates colonia located in Hidalgo County. Colonias families typically earn between $4,500 and $14,000 a year, while the cost of Proyecto Azteca-built homes is around $16,000, with a family's monthly mortgage payments ranging from $70 to $90. Proyecto Azteca's partners in its effort include USDA Rural Housing, Housing Assistance Council, Texas Bar Foundation, Texas Rural Legal Aid, and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Proyecto Azteca also receives funds through HUD's HOME Program and Community Development Block Grant funds. Together, these organizations will leverage $1.1 million in other funding, in addition to the value of homeowners' sweat equity in constructing their homes.

  • The Laredo-Webb County Community Action Agency will receive $509,000 as part of a one-stop self-help housing assistance program that will offer housing construction classes, housing rehabilitation activities, and construction of additions onto existing permanent housing structures to reduce overcrowding. Funds also will support deferred loans for the rehabilitation of homes, and finance room additions on additional homes. The grant to the Laredo-Webb County Community Action Agency will leverage approximately $285,000 of state and applicant funds, with potential to leverage an additional $855,000 of state funding.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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