On February 25, 2014, Ms. Cynthia de Luna, President & C.E.O. of the Housing Authority of the City of Del Rio, hosted an Open House ceremony for a Public Housing Homeownership Recipient. This program was initiated by the Housing Authority in 1996 and will strive to continue to realize the American Dream for other residents of Public Housing.
This memorable occasion was made possible by the contributions of our local Home Depot Store; Border Federal Credit Union; and the assistance of F.A. Construction, Westex Roofing, J.C. Cabinet Shop, O.K. Painting, J. Bosquez Construction, Amistad Consulting, Meza Heating & Air Conditioning, Chuy’s Electric, V & M Construction and staff of the Housing Authority. Also guests present were, members of the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, Honorable Mayor Robert “Bobby” Fernandez, the Del Rio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce and members of the various Resident Councils.
The mission of the Del Rio Housing Authority (DRHA) is to provide safe, decent, affordable and sanitary housing to the low and mixed income families of the City of Del Rio. DRHA was established on January 20, 1940 by a three member Board. The late Don Arturo Gonzalez, as President of LULAC Council #18, went door to door to obtain information from households about income, number of children, and education. Mr. Gonzalez was instrumental in getting the first federal grant to establish the DRHA. Mr. Gonzalez was also DRHA’s first Executive Director. Today, DRHA with over 50 years of experience, consists of several programs, assisting over 1,500 families. The programs are: Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, Moderate Rehabilitation, USDA-Farm Labor Housing, State Funds, and the management of Section 202 Housing for the elderly.
Other programs include the Home Ownership Program, Capital Fund Program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Amy Young Barrier Removal Program, after school tutoring, scholarships and the Family Self-sufficiency Program which provides services to residents to assist them in their goals and empowering them to become self sufficient. At the present time, applications are being accepted at the various DRHA properties or sites. For additional information, please stop by the Del Rio Housing Authority located at 207 N. Bedell St. or call (830) 774-6506.
Over 65 members and citizens attended the February DRHCC membership meeting. The “Let’s Talk Water- One Voice for Val Verde County” panel included Mayor Roberto Fernandez and City Public Works Director Hector Canales, Val Verde County Judge Laura Allen and Commissioner Beau Nettleon, Plateau Water Group Vice Chair Jerry Simpton, Uvalde County Water District General Manager Vic Hilderbran, State Representative Poncho Nevarez, and for Senator Carlos Uresti – Ms. Hellen Martinez.
The meeting was moderated by Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance – a nonprofit which unites fifty-one organizations throughout a 21 county region in Central and South Texas behind a plan to protect the Edwards Aquifer and its contributing watersheds. When asked, all local elected officials noted they are in support of the creation of a Groundwater Conservation District for Val Verde County. Several also stated that initially they did not support the creation of the Water District, yet with continued drought concerns and the water needs of neighboring urban cities or communities, the elected officials recognized the urgency to partner in protecting the rights of the property owners and the local community – both stakeholders in this issue.
Ms. Martinez shared Senator Uresti’s views on ensuring all stakeholders, especially elected officials, are in agreement with the enabling legislation in order to expedite the process through the legislature. State Representative Poncho Nevarez noted his office is available and ready to assist in filing the bill early so it can be placed on the schedule, cautioning however that there are times that a bill can become a victim of a colleague’s plan to further their own agenda. Vic Hilderbran, Uvalde Water Conservation District, explained how the Water Conservation District is funded as a taxing entity. Uvalde voters approved the District and were assessed 2 cents and later 1 cent per $100,000 property valuation. Hilderbran also suggested a tax on water being transported out would help fund the Water District.
Hilderbran also affirmed the importance of having the stakeholders (property owners, elected officials, citizens) on the enabling legislation table to ensure consensus needed for the bill to pass through the legislature and ultimately to the voters. Several panel members noted the Water District Board would be comprised of appointed – not elected positions. Nevarez, speaking as a lawyer, stated that nothing would ensure lawsuits would be avoided. Simpton of the Plateau Water Group and who has been working on the this issue with Commissioner Beau Nettleton since before 2003 stated the joint hydrologist study being received in about a month would provide the information needed for the County and the City to proceed with drafting the enabling legislation. Mayor Roberto Fernandez stated that although San Antonio Water System (SAWS) recently agreed to the recommendation to pursue desalination of water and not purchase water from Val Verde County, there are many other communities and companies, interested in Val Verde water and SAWS decision only gives us a little more time to accomplish what we need to do.
Simpton noted that no contracts have been signed for the sale of Val Verde water. The panel expects enabling legislation will be ready for the 2015 legislature. When asked, Mayor Fernandez and Public Works Director Canales noted measures to conserve water are being included in the City’s water conservation plans. In a very special way, DRHCC thanks all panel participants for providing clarification and pertinent information on the creation of a Groundwater Conservation District for Val Verde County.