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comment by kleinbl00

1) colonia must be a Texas term. We just called them slums.

2) The Texas definition of colonia would include my grandparents' house.

    Farmers began to sell their worst, often flood-prone, land to real estate developers who then divided it into lots for sale. The buyers, typically low-

    income farmworkers and immigrants, would build their homes slowly over time. Since the land was usually in unincorporated areas of a county, unscrupulous developers would rent or sell lots with promises, such as to install running water and electricity, or to hand over the title after a certain number of payments, and then never follow through.

Good thing my grandfather was a plumber.

3) I remember this.

    Colonias gained national notoriety for representing third-world conditions in the US, and in the 1980s federal and state governments responded. They passed new regulations on rural development and allocated more than $1 billion in infrastructure improvements.

All of a sudden the streets had names and about a third of them were paved. My mother had students (college students) who couldn't get mail because their house was the third one on the driveway on the left past the culvert. But then, over the course of a year in like '85, everyone had an address.

Which leads me to read this:

    More than 2000 colonias are identified within the U.S., with the highest concentration in Texas, however, they also exist in Arizona, California and New Mexico. Evidence suggests that there are more than 1,800 designated colonias in the state of Texas alone, somewhere around 138 in New Mexico, about 77 in Arizona, and 32 in California. These settlements are part of an informal sector or informal economy that is not bound by the structures of government regulations within labor, tax, health and safety, land use and environmental, civil rights, and immigration laws.

Yeah, see, Texas hates Mexicans. Arizona's a wasteland. California (Southern California) doesn't have water away from the coast. New Mexico? New Mexico is full of Chicanos whose families have been on their land for 400 years. HIspanics in New Mexico are a much more advantaged, integrated class than they are anywhere else and there was no attempt to pretend slums were anything but slums. Slums were a problem, slums were to be solved, slums were an affront to human decency and while slums still exist, for fuck's sake a trailer park beats the tar out of an unplumbed shack in the middle of dry camping.

I drove past four or five of these slums when I needed car parts or CDs. They're empty and abandoned now. Meanwhile there are a lot more housing developments and thanks to tourism and gambling, a lot more jobs. And all of a sudden people aren't living in ramshackle shitholes made out of stolen plywood. Hey, you wanna see a rippin' example of white privilege?

    Homeownership rates for the poor and minorities, for one thing, are much higher in these kinds of informal subdivisions around the country.

    “That’s a great thing,” he says. “The inherent advantage of self-help housing is it provides homeownership opportunities to people normally locked out of that market.”


    “If a state like Texas made it impossible for these communities to develop in the first place, many of the families would have nowhere else to go,” he adds. “We should at least take steps to make sure it’s done more safely.”

Maybe you should give a shit about the poor rather than institutionalize slums.

    “The state of Texas is our greatest obstacle [to improving colonias],” says Democratic state Rep. Terry Canales. Leaning back in a leather chair in his law office in Edinburg, Mr. Canales says that in his six years in Austin “there have been more obstacles than victories. The problem that we’ve got is the current political climate doesn’t seem to lend itself to helping poor people, and that’s just the bottom line.”

I remember when Ann Richards was defeated. We watched, knowing that the progress made towards humanity by our boorish neighbors to the East would stop and the decline would begin. Now here we are, 22 years later, stroking our chins earnestly about whether or not squatter shantytowns are a good thing or a bad thing.

    All of which makes Durst, the colonias expert at Michigan State, think Texas may have stumbled on an affordable-housing solution. After decades of being criticized nationwide for having thousands of residents living in third-world conditions, the state is seeing residents – impoverished or not – create their own communities.

Fuck you, white guy at Michigan State. Come drive through one of these places and tell me what a great fucking leap forward they are.

user-inactivated  ·  827 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I kind of got the overall impression that maybe these weren't a great idea, that skirting regulations or building things halfway in the hopes that they'll eventually be finished, isn't a healthy way to go about things. The article was really pushing the idea though, so I thought maybe there was something I was missing. I've joked before, on here, about digging a hole in the ground, throwing a tarp on top of it, and calling it a house because trying to find an affordable place to live around here is an exercise in frustration, so I can at least in a little bit of a way understand the appeal of the idea. But then again, if people approach this as an actual real solution because they feel like they don't have any other choice, I think we need to take a harder look at the choices we're offering people and where and why we're falling short.

kleinbl00  ·  827 days ago  ·  link  ·  

There's a difference between homesteading and squatting. Homesteading is building a domicile where there wasn't one. Squatting is occupying a space in lieu of action. Ask yourself: if these people were to apply for a building permit and do it all according to Hoyle, would they succeed? What would it cost? Could they afford to do it?

The answer is no. Because when they're accorded the rights and protections of citizenship they end up in a dwelling three or four times as expensive. That doesn't mean that Texas should tolerate shantytowns. It means that Texas needs to start subsidizing housing.