In this video produced by our partners at La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and A Resource In Serving Equality (ARISE), children living in the colonias of the Rio Grande Valley tell us why they’d like to have streetlights in their neighborhoods. The lack of street lighting is one of the biggest problems facing Valley residents – in Hidalgo County, 87 percent of colonias are without streetlights. Here’s what the Rio Grande Valley looks like from space at night (colonias outlined in red, U.S.-Mexico border in blue):
The darkness causes serious public safety issues. Children have been killed by cars while waiting for the school bus, and families are afraid to go on a walk at night or let kids play outside due to the accidents and crime that can take place on dark streets. This dangerous failure of infrastructure has left people feeling unsafe in their own communities, and colonia residents are now impressing upon county and state officials the need for something to be done.
Two bills proposed in the Texas Legislature, SB 1950 and HB 3002, would assure that county governments have the authority to charge for and provide streetlight service to the colonias where residents are asking for lights. The bills allow county tax assessors to add fees for residents receiving lights onto their county property tax statements, a solution which is supported by the community leaders of LUPE and ARISE. Both bills have been approved in committee and are awaiting floor votes in their respective chambers.