EDINBURG, RGV – Dozens of members of La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and A Resource in Serving Equality (ARISE) delivered a petition signed by 2,112 people to Hidalgo County Commissioners on Tuesday.
The petition requested Commissioners Court make a much greater effort to provide street lights in colonias across Hidalgo County. Specifically, the two groups want to see the current Hidalgo County Unincorporated Subdivision Street Lights Program amended and improved.
LUPE and ARISE are non-profits that assist colonia and low-income families across Hidalgo County.
“We all deserve to live in safe and lighted communities throughout Hidalgo County no matter where we live,” Martha Sanchez told the Rio Grande Guardian. “We need to invest more in the safety and well-being of our families.”
Sanchez, a community organizer for LUPE, pointed out that Hidalgo Commissioners’ Court is slated to cut six million dollars allocated to garbage collection for colonia residents in the County’s 2019 fiscal year budget.
“LUPE members request to use that money to help colonias in need by allocating a small percentage of the budget to public lighting,” she said.
Sanchez added that many colonias in the Rio Grande Valley do not have adequate public lighting where they live and that this creates “difficult obstacles” for children and families. She said LUPE was instrumental in establishing the application framework that Hidalgo County adopted to approve lighting projects in colonias.
“LUPE organizers and leaders continue informing colonia residents about the application process and help them throughout the process.”
Ramona Casas, a community organizer with ARISE, told the Rio Grande Guardian: “Colonia residents and advocates with ARISE, LUPE and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service have pushed for public lighting in their communities for over ten years for families’ well-being and safety. The current Street Lights Program requires the applicant subdivisions to have infrastructure in front of their property which excludes many subdivisions in the county.”
Casas said her group, along with LUPE, is asking county commissioners for two things.
“One, we want Hidalgo County to include subdivisions with/without infrastructure in the back part of their properties, to establish a fixed public lighting item line budget in the 2018-19 County Budget. And, two, we want the County to pass the MSRs (Model Subdivision Rules) which will ensure no future Subdivisions to be built without street lights.”