Taking a Closer Look at Texas Colonias

July 10, 2015 | by Michael Wilt

Categories: Affordable Housing

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas recently issued a report entitled, “Las Colonias in the 21st Century: Progress Along the Texas-Mexico Border.” The report notes that approximately 500,000 people live in the 2,294 colonias located along the state’s 1,248 mile border with Mexico. In light of these these eye-catching numbers, we are focusing this week’s blog post on Texas colonias and the improvements that have been made in the past 20 years.

The Texas Secretary of State defines “colonia” as “a residential area along the Texas-Mexico border that may lack some of the most basic living necessities, such as potable water and sewer systems, electricity, paved roads, and safe and sanitary housing.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas report details the way colonias are generally improving:

The report goes on to recommend the following opportunities for future progress:

  • Taking a "holistic approach whereby government agencies and anchor institutions such as hospitals, clinics, grocery stores, financial institutions, schools and nonprofit organizations work collaboratively to make progress on health issues in colonias."
  • Coupling infrastructure challenges with affordable housing instead of addressing them in "silos."
  • Encouraging innovative partnerships that link educational, commercial, and startup accelerator institutions to the "entrepreneurial enterprises" of colonia residents.
  • Spurring economic development organizations to invest in colonia residents to provide solutions to persistent challenges like safe drinking water, healthy food, and sustainable housing.

We encourage you to read the complete report and consider registering for the "Las Colonias in the 21st Century" conference July 30-31 in McAllen, Texas.   

TSAHC and Colonias

TSAHC’s involvement with colonias dates back to our organization’s inception when TSAHC staff in conjunction with outside attorneys helped residents of the El Cenizo colonia near Laredo manage issues at bankruptcy courts relating to their property. This effort created a path for residents to stay in their homes either through converting to a mortgage and deed of trust or honoring existing deed agreements.

TSAHC continues to support colonias through our work with local partners as part of the Affordable Communities of Texas program and through grants from the Texas Foundations Fund. Grant recipients include the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville for their home repair work in colonias in Cameron and Willacy Counties and Motivation, Education and Training, Inc. for providing housing to very low-income farmworkers in rural colonias.

On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.


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Lara Pole

Texas Secretary of State’s Definition: The term colonia in Spanish means a community or neighborhood. uk dissertation experts

Hannah L.

How much in grant funds were pumped into these areas in the 1980s and 1990s by the Tx. Dept of Community Affairs, Tx Dept of Housing, and others…(and what percent was stolen by the local politicians?) I guess few people can even make an essay over it. Hope to get my question answered soon.


good blog

Robert Johnes

Nice post. I have read in news recently that the government has been decided to offer residents to people who is living in the Mexican border. Since the real estate businesses are growing day by day, this plan is the best decision ever that our government has been taken yet.
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I would have never, ever guessed in a million years that 500,000 people lived along that border.

It is still unbelievable that there are pockets of communities in the U.S.A where the residents do not have safe drinking water, power, housing, or roads.

It is nice to see that there are people tracking the progress…where we can truly see if things are getting better or worse.

Education is one of the greatest weapons against poverty and hopelessness.

It begins with providing assistance to the youth in order to break the cycle.

As they get older and more financially successful they would be in a better position to give back to the community and return the favor.

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