Second-Generation Policy Priorities for Colonias and Informal Settlements in Texas | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin
Article, Refereed Journal

Second-Generation Policy Priorities for Colonias and Informal Settlements in Texas

Housing Policy Debate
Noah J. Durst

pAlong the Texas border with Mexico, more than 400,000 people live in over 2,000nbsp;informal self-help settlements known as colonias. These exceedingly low-income,nbsp;largely Latino settlements have historically suffered from severe health risks, poornbsp;infrastructure and housing conditions, and physical and social isolation. Researchers and policymakers have focused extensively on what I call ldquo;first-generation policy priorities.rdquo; This has primarily entailed efforts to regularize title and infrastructure, support self-help home improvement for colonia homeowners, and prevent the growth of new informal settlements along the border region. I provide a comprehensive review of existing research on colonias to document the myriad ways in which housing and infrastructure conditions and titling practices have changed since these settlements first proliferated throughout the border region in the second half of the 20th century. These changes necessitate a rethinking of the policy priorities for colonias and informal settlements throughout the state. In particular, I argue that colonias must be recast tonbsp;recognize the significant improvements that have taken place but also the long-termnbsp;and sometimes severe problems that persist. These ldquo;second-generation policynbsp;prioritiesrdquo; include the development of sustainable forms of governance, regulation, and finance to address ongoing infrastructure investment needs in colonias; supporting access to and upkeep of safe and affordable renter- and owner-occupied housing through both self-help and contractor-led projects; ensuring long-term title clarity; and promoting community organizing in new and aging settlements./p

Research Topic: 
Infrastructure Systems and Policy
Urban Policy and Housing