State of Texas Office of Rural Community Affairs and Department of Housing and Community Affairs
For accomplishments in addressing the needs of Colonias residents along the US-Mexico Border
CDBG 30th Anniversary Recognition of Excellence
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 and 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.
Content Archived: April 20, 2011