Local Stories

Rio Grande Valley site of first-ever Colonias Summit

Rio Grande Valley site of first-ever Colonias Summit

By Steve Taylor
Rio Grande Guardian

HARLINGEN — State Sen. Eddie Lucio says he will hold a public hearing in Austin in the coming weeks to focus on the issues raised at last Friday’s first-ever Colonias Summit.

“I am on a high following this summit,” Lucio said. “We heard moving testimony from colonia residents who want to better themselves, who want to work, who want good paying jobs and who want better education so that the lives of their children can be elevated.”

Lucio, D-Brownsville, said the information gathered at the summit, which was held at TSTC-Harlingen, will help he and his staff draft legislation for the next legislative session, which starts in Austin next January. He said he will be proposing a constitutional amendment to trigger a bond issue to raise money to improve the roads leading to colonias and within colonia communities.

“We need another good bond program for roads. The first one we had brought in $175 million but that has all gone. The monies would go to where the need is greatest,” Lucio said. He pointed out that of the $175 million $90 million was allocated to the Rio Grande Valley.

Lucio said he would also like to find more money for his much-cherished Texas Bootstrap Loan Program, which, administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, assists low-income families build their own homes. The families must put in “sweat equity” in order to build the home. The money is borrowed at a low interest rate and paid back over a long period.

“The Bootstrap Program is an excellent program but not enough money has been placed into it. I would like to have at least $15 million or $20 million available,” Lucio said. “Over 1,000 homes have been completed but the need is in the tens of thousands. We have over 175,000 people that live in colonias. When they own better homes they contribute more in taxes. They become contributing members of society.”

Lucio told the Guardian that over 80 percent of his constituents live at or below the poverty line. He said that percentage is even greater in public schools in the Valley.

Many of the community groups that represent low income families were present at the Colonias Summit, including the RGV Equal Voice Network, which includes ten non-profits across the Valley that work in colonias. The event drew more than 100 colonia residents.

Among the governmental bodies represented at the Colonias Summit were the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas A&M Colonia Center, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Center for Economic Development in the Secretary of State’s Office, the General Land Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and NADBank.

Lucio appeared tearful when he heard Harlingen resident Yolanda Shoffeitt refer to the Valley as the “Valley of Tears.” He said…

Finish reading Rio Grande Valley site of first-ever Colonias Summit

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Local Stories

More in Local Stories

hat tossing ceremony at graduation

Oklahoma Graduation Rates Drop in All Student Groups

Latina ListaJuly 29, 2015
crowd

Forum Takes On Homophobia Among Latinos

Latina ListaJuly 28, 2015
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Arizona’s Gila River leader says lack of broadband is harming tribal, rural areas

Latina ListaJuly 27, 2015
Cover-Ice-4

Deportation Protest Calls for National Reform

Latina ListaJuly 23, 2015
mexican-selling-donald-trump-pinatas-0622-4

Trump to visit Laredo on Thursday

Latina ListaJuly 22, 2015
stack of books on the dark wood background. toning. selective focus on the middle book

Opinion: Latinos Are The New Majority in CA, But Not In Our Textbooks

Latina ListaJuly 21, 2015
Flag of Puerto Rico, national country symbol illustration finance economy dollar

Puerto Ricans in Connecticut Sound Off on Island’s Crisis

Latina ListaJuly 20, 2015
6a00d8341c90b153ef019aff34e1b0970d

Oklahoma senator’s amendment would track homeless students

Latina ListaJuly 16, 2015
U.S. Border Patrol Senior Agent B.T. Hick and his dog Mirza, left, inspect a car at a check point outside Organ Pipe Cactus National Park in Why, Ariz., Wednesday, May 24, 2006. The detention of a prominent immigration activist at a Texas airport served as a reminder of the latitude the Border Patrol has in conducting checkpoints for drugs and immigrants in the country illegally at locations not on the border. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Rio Grande Valley judge fears border security bill will bring more harassment for border residents

Latina ListaJuly 15, 2015