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The University of Texas at Austin

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

Colonia Housing and Infrastructure (3 volume set)

Colonia Housing and Infrastructure (3 volume set)

Project directed by Jorge Chapa and David J. Eaton

Colonia Housing and Infrastructure is a three-volume series, intended to provide a comprehensive understanding of the problems and issues facing colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. Colonias are private property located outside city limits, some in nearby suburbs and others extremely remote. As unincorporated areas, colonias do not have local city governments. For many years the problem of urban water resources and affordable housing for low income families living in colonias along the Texas-Mexico border have remained largely unresolved.

The three volumes address two main pressing needs: gaining access to water and wastewater infrastructure programs, and addressing the massively substandard housing conditions on the U.S. side of the Texas-Mexico border. Together, the volumes contain extensive information detailing the position of colonia areas presented in more than 150 tables and figures of original data not available elsewhere.

Current Characteristics, Future Needs (Vol. 1)

The first volume of the Colonia Housing and Infrastructure report defines colonias and describes such conditions as the lack of affordable housing that have led to their growth. Besides housing characteristics, it discusses the problems associated with the lack of basic water and wastewater provisions in colonia areas. The study also provides information, for comparison, about border regions without colonias, urban areas, rural areas, and the state as a whole.

The report concludes with an in-depth look at state legislation, with particular emphasis on the 74th Texas Legislature in 1995. It also provides some discussion of the many programs affecting colonias. Counties profiled include Cameron, El Paso, Hidalgo and Webb.

Water and Wastewater Infrastructure (Vol. 2)

Volume 2 examines state, federal, and international programs which provide financing for new or improved water distribution and wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure for the colonias in the Texas-Mexico border region. Much of the report focuses on the state programs, especially the Texas Water Development Board's Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs' Colonia Fund. The report identifies colonias which do not or will not have access to potable water and wastewater collection infrastructure even after the completion of the many projects currently underway.

The study analyzes the methodology currently used by Texas to estimate colonia infrastructure needs, describing its strengths and shortcomings. It also examines the cost estimate for providing additional infrastructure for these colonias and makes recommendations for the legislature to consider when making appropriations decisions.

The report recommends that the Texas Legislature consider (1) establishing statewide regulations that mandate utility provision of infrastructure prior to subdivision, platting and sale of individual home lots, (2) amending the EDAP legislation to allow individual colonias to make independent applications for infrastructure funding, and (3) appropriating additional EDAP funding for colonias with unmet needs.

Regulatory Issues and Policy Analysis (Vol. 3)

Volume 3 contains case studies of the El Cenizo and Sparks colonias. This report examines issues such as the history, environment, employment, income, poverty, work conditions, women in the workforce, and education of school children in these colonias and explores the applicability of several economic and state housing programs to meet their needs. It discusses three broad categories of economic programs that are potential sources of assistance to colonias: (1) general programs which focus on infrastructure problems, but not necessarily on colonia; (2) specific programs which focus on the economic development of the U.S.-Mexico border; and (3) colonia-based programs which are designed to stimulate economic development in colonias. The study also provides an in-depth analysis of the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP), the types of energy sources available to colonias, and the subdivision and platting laws of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Policy Research Project Reports Series No. 124
1997 / 8.5" x 11" / 489 pp.
ISBN-10: 0-89940-737-4
Publication Code (PR-124)


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