was a window of opportunity that created a loophole for many property
owners to be able to subdivide their property without actually platting
them," said Saul Ramirez, deputy director of the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). "It created a situation
for unscrupulous developers and landowners to take advantage of
some of the poorest residents that we have in (Texas) simply because
they were looking for an affordable housing opportunity."
were developed outside city limits because land was cheap and
there was little zoning enforcement from county officials.
purchased land, divided it into small parcels without calling
it a subdivision and without putting in roads, water or electricity.
are financed under a contract for deed, which is a rent-to-own
form of ownership, but because the land wasnt legally subdivided
the deed to the property has no legal value.
residents cannot qualify for bank loans so developers charged
$100 down and $50 per month and told prospective buyers that services
were coming, but never built them.
the past 10 years, the Texas Attorney General has filed nearly 45
lawsuits against colonia developers for deceptive trade practices,
illegal subdividing and health nuisances.
litigation has curbed substandard practices but fines against developers
have gone unpaid because they had no assets that could be seized.