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Investigation of colonias residents' potential for self-help housing construction
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The colonias of the Lower Rio Grande Valley are rural, unincorporated subdivisions where infrastructure exists in an embryonic stage. Although many of the houses in these communities are of substandard quality, the communities provide a unique environment where self-help home building flourishes. The residents of colonias comprise a homogeneous population, predominately unskilled, Mexican-American immigrants who earn minimum wage and command little or no English language ability. Most colonias residents cannot afford housing alternatives available within the city limits, hence, the find the colonias their only alternative. This study looked at the existing conditions in the colonias and evaluated the level of potential that colonias households possessed for self-help construction. The guiding hypothesis was that colonias resident groups possess different levels of self-help housing potential. Reconnaissance pointed to types of employment as an appropriate method of grouping residents. Through the methodology of triangulation, often employed in the social sciences, the issues were probed repeatedly from multiple vantage points. The primary data was derived from a survey of key informants (social professionals working in the colonias communities) and case studies of colonias residents. Secondary data was derived from a review of germane self-help studies, particularly those from the Third World, and from studies conducted in the colonias of South Texas. After comparing data, the consistent patterns which emerged were relied upon as outcomes. The conclusions of this investigation describe the impetuses for choosing a colonia location and self-help construction, the deployment of resources in the construction effort, the builders' impressions of the self-help process, and the quality of the housing product produced through the self-help process. Once the requisite skills for self-help construction were defined, and the residents' construction potential was assessed, it was possible to suggest recommendations for methods of providing assistance. Because the findings showed that colonias residents could not be grouped according to employment, that the original hypothesis needed revision. It was found that no abilities were requisite to self-help construction; there were only those variables which facilitate or hinder the self-help construction process.
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Includes bibliographical references.
Major construction management.
Rio Grande Valley - Economic conditions.
Rural poor - Texas. - Housing
Roach, Katherine Anne (1993). Investigation of colonias residents' potential for self-help housing construction. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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