CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Lionel Lopez is passionate about the 'Colonias,' the rural neighborhoods across Nueces County, which don’t have utilities and resources some people take for granted.
Lopez, a Corpus Christi resident, used to work for the Corpus Christi Fire Department. That was many years ago, and still Lopez is passionate about helping the Colonias.
“I didn’t even know what a Colonia was but I got involved when I was in the fire department,” Lopez said.
Nueces County commissioners voted Tuesday to apply for a grant that would help Colonias residents fix their houses. Those Colonias are: Banquete, Blue Bonnet, Cindy Park, Ja-Lin, and the Ranch. The county would build a self-help center where residents can access resources provided by the program.
The money would go toward fixing residents’ homes — repairing roofs, or making homes compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
However, Lopez is angry that not every resident would be able to benefit from the money.
“I understand that there’s not enough money in this grant to fix all the houses," he said. "I understand that, but I also understand how the people are going to feel."
Nueces County Pct. 2 Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez said he’s been listening to residents requests, and said even though the money is a small amount, it would benefit the entire community.
“Our ears are open, our eyes are open, so we try to do whatever we can out there," he said. "It’s not that we don’t hear them, right? Right now, you can what you do with what you have. Unfortunately It takes money to do a lot of things."
Pct. 3 commissioner John Marez said the money would benefit a lot of residents because it would go toward solid-waste removal and education courses such as a financial-literacy program.
“This is a pilot program that we have initiated today through our court action, and it is something we’ll obviously continue to review and see how we, as a county, individually can help provide more assistance,” he said.
He said the Colonias were chosen by the state because they are recognized colonias by the Texas Secretary of State, they have access to potable water, and have access to a sanitary sewer system.
Marez said the county also will be choosing two representatives residents can contact about the program, and that these representatives would also visit other self-help center sites located in Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, and El Paso counties.