Through education and preparation, LUPE leaders are gaining the confidence and knowledge to speak to their elected officials, and tell them that, when it comes to their colonias’ needs, they won’t take no for an answer.
The presentation of Maria Guadalupe Pruñeda at the beginning of November in the Commissioners Court started a conversation on public lighting with Mingo Villarreal, assistant of Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Flores, who told the residents of Linda Vista that “there is no money.”
After studying the Hidalgo County Community Development funds, LUPE leaders did not give up. “The rationale of Mingo is as follows: for a colonia that has been in the dark for 24 years, waiting 2 or 3 more years is not long. But we did not go to hear that,” said LUPE leader Sergio Narvaez.
All LUPE leaders who continue participating in the monthly trainings learn how the distribution of economic resources functions. “You get the budget every year,” said Antonia Garcia, Linda Vista resident and leader of LUPE. “Why not give a percentage for public lighting each year since it is a necessary priority of the constituents of precinct 3?”
While the precinct has found federal grants to install solar lights in area colonias, precinct officials have avoided committing to use CDBG funds annually for streetlight installation. Mingo Villarreal insisted that “sometimes it is not possible.”
Armed with knowledge from LUPE’s CDBG funds workshops, Antonia Garcia responded, “We have joined with LUPE, and they have taught us that yes, it can be done!”