Residents of Colonia La Piñata are eager to see changes in their colonia. After having their first meeting with LUPE last month, colonia residents have worked to bring newly elected Precinct 1 Commissioner Joel Quintanilla to their homes to see the reality of poverty that they face daily and ask for his word that he will work toward changes in their colonia.
With the help of LUPE organizer Daniel Diaz, La Piñata residents gained that visit on Monday June 27, 2011. Though the Commissioner arrived an hour late due to an overlapping appointment, colonia residents were eager to share their concerns with the elected county official.
The lack of resources in La Piñata was heavily evident, especially after the heavy rain that hit our region a few days prior to this meeting. The group of colonia residents expressed various concerns about their colonia community to the Commissioner as they fully took advantage of having the presence of the elected official in their colonia. A popular concern was the lack of light. Most residents expressed an increase in criminal activity and tie the problem to the lack of light during night hours. They also spoke to the commissioner about the flooding problem they have due to their lack of a proper drainage system.
When the commissioner was asked about these problems he responded saying “unfortunately we don’t have money to fix all the colonias in my precinct, it would take approximately 120 million dollars to effectively aid all 400 colonias in my precinct”. He continued, “I come from a poor background; I understand what it is to live in really bad conditions”. While the commissioner sounded compassionate, colonia residents are looking for his commitment to work with them to find solutions to the issues most concerning the colonia residents.
A unique problem that faces La Piñata is the fact that it is owned by an individual. The commissioner promised that if the residents of la piñata organized a petition to meet with the owner, he would help find the owner and bring him to la colonia. Because the colonia is owned by an individual, the county commissioner has no authority to step in and fund projects such as better streets, drainage, and lights.
The commissioner also assured a solution in the issue of security by saying, “there will be an addition of county sheriffs that will be able to assist this colonia and surrounding areas, just give me a year to see the results”. He also offered quick changes by promising to put street signs and an effective cleanup of the colonia by July 9th. Colonia residents have reported that the county has already begun to install street signs.
Because of their action with LUPE, residents of La Piñata have already begun to see changes. They know, however, that much more work and commitment will be required to bring about bigger changes, like improved drainage and street lights. But residents are animados to continue building with LUPE toward a better quality of life in their colonia.