ALAMO, Texas – Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez set up the Prosperity Task Force to address his county’s high poverty rate.
“Local entities, particularly our school districts, suggest that the poverty rate could be as high as 40 percent in Hidalgo County,” Cortez said. “That is much higher than the statewide and national poverty rate and it has an impact on all residents of Hidalgo County.”
Corte said it is vital for the county to develop a strategy to mitigate its effects “because research shows that helping those in poverty not only benefits low income peoples but lowers the cost of government and, ultimately, the cost to taxpayers.”
The Prosperity Task Force is made up of nearly 150 policymakers and community leaders, broken up into 12 different subgroups with the aim of helping low income residents through, training, job opportunities and the development of human capital.
Recently, the task force held a town hall meeting in south Alamo to hear from colonia residents. One of the residents in attendance was Rosa Maria Pimentel, who lives in Colonia La Frontera in Donna.
Pimentel said that over the last 30 years she raised five children without government help. “Tuve cinco hijos, y todos crecieron aqui, sin ayuda del gobierno,” she said.
Pimentel said she attended the town hall meeting to address to press for better public transportation in Hidalgo County. She said a bus service is needed for grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, church attendance, and work.
According to Pimentel, she has had jobs that paid a little as $2.00 an hour. Even at that pay rate, she said she has raised five children without assistance from the government. Pimentel credits the grace of God, community organizations like ARISE, local Catholic churches and public schools for providing important help.
The Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force, Pimentel said, offers vital information that must be distributed to the community.
Pimentel said all of her children have stable working families. She said her family has grown to at least 20 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.
Privately, she said, some officials have personally assured her that the government is primarily concerned with the criminal element involved with drugs, theft or other illegal activities.
According to Pimental, one clergyman told her, “Haci como respetamos las leyes del Dios, tenemos que respetar las leyes de los hombres.” Pimentel said undocumented residents are being paid below minimum wage. She said she hopes that will change.
Here is an interview she gave to reporters at the event:
Editor’s Note: The above video news story is the sixth in a six-part series on the town hall meeting Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez and the Prosperity Task Force held in south Alamo. Part One focuses on the wrap-up remarks of colonia residents. Click to here to watch it. Part Two focuses on an interview with Judge Cortez. Click here to watch it. Part Three focuses on an interview with Hidalgo County Commissioner Eddie Cantu. Click here to watch it. Part Four focuses on an interview with La Unión del Pueblo’s Danny Diaz. Click here to watch it. Part Five focuses on an interview with ARISE’s Ramona Casas. Click here to watch it.
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