Document Type

Student Article


Colonias are unincorporated subdivisions that lack access to basic infrastructure and safe, suitable housing. While research shows that there are currently seven definitions of a Colonia, those definitions have been ineffective in halting their proliferation or improving residents’ living conditions. The lack of infrastructure has led to significant health and environmental problems such as hepatitis, cholera, lice infestation, groundwater contamination, and air pollution. Additionally, counties have little power to regulate development in unincorporated areas, which has contributed to unsafe, substandard housing. Legislative efforts have attempted to address these problems but have had little to no success. State programs are attempting to fill in the gaps that legislation has left by providing adequate housing, health services, education, and other basic needs. However, discrepancies in the Colonia definition prevent programs and agencies from providing services to the Colonias that need it the most. Without a method of tracking and prioritizing the Colonias in need of services, funds and resources are spread too thin. By creating a uniform definition, tracking the progress of Colonias, providing more funds, and empowering counties, efforts can finally succeed in making Colonias a thing of the past.



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