After years of resident advocacy, Hidalgo County adopts higher standards for drainage and streetlight infrastructure for new model subdivisions
For decades, new developments have been approved without streetlights and adequate drainage, and thousands of residents have faced the dangerous consequences: accidents, property damage, flooding and after over 3 years of organizing by LUPE, ARISE, & Texas Housers Hidalgo County voted today on adopting higher standards for new neighborhood development that will create safer communities for colonia residents.
These rules put an end to this practice and create safer communities for new colonia developments where residents will face fewer barriers to dignified living.
While the changes made to the regulations increase the minimum expected service provision in the county, existing colonias are not guaranteed these important protections. There are dozens of colonias in Hidalgo County that will still toil in darkness and in floods as they have for decades. The next battle for residents and advocates will be urging the state and county to help improve the housing conditions in model subdivisions and to bring infrastructure in pre-existing colonias up to par.
We still have a lot to do. Texas state leadership places barriers to improving colonia conditions, with the governor’s office recently cutting funding for colonia development oversight. And we still have to fight for streetlights and drainage in existing colonias.
But this victory frees up the county to focus resources where they are needed most.
LUPE and our partners are asking the county to dedicate a permanent budget item toward streetlight infrastructure so that existing colonias who organize themselves and apply to the county’s streetlights program aren’t turned away because of lack of money in the county’s budget.