A Look at Life Inside Texas’ Border Communities:
Many of MHP Salud’s direct service programs operate inside the Rio Grande Valley’s colonias, which are defined by The Texas Office of the Secretary of State as residential areas along the Texas-Mexico border that may lack basic living necessities like potable water, septic or sewer systems, electricity, paved roads, or safe and sanitary housing. As such, residential life in the colonias is very different from many urban and suburban communities in America.
Over 500,000 people live in Texas’ colonias, 96% of whom are Hispanic or Latino. Many of these colonias began as migrant farmworker settlements, founded in response to the lack of affordable housing in the area. Typically, colonias are developed when a landowner sells land by dividing it into lots. In most cases, there is little to no residential infrastructure on the lot at the time of sale.
Although the infrastructure in colonias is substandard, and more than 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line, these conditions hide thriving communities. The people living inside the colonias are industrious, hardworking, and family-oriented. Many residents work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and homeless rates are low. It’s common to find multiple families living in a single dwelling, as residents ensure that their relatives are cared for.