(The Center Square) – Several state lawmakers and staff of the Texas Office of the Attorney General toured multiple subdivisions in the Colony Ridge neighborhood north of Houston.
The land developer said they were invited “in response to ongoing false media narratives and false statements being perpetrated by out-of-state media outlets, politicians, and special interest groups.”
“There was nothing we saw that was alarming,” state Rep. Christina Morales, D-Houston, told reporters after the tour. “When it came to mobile homes, we didn’t see anything out of the ordinary anything you wouldn’t see in Houston or Harris County. We saw nice neighborhoods, seems like a normal neighborhood. I do not think this is anything we should be worried about or using up taxpayer dollars to talk about,” referring to an agenda item of the third special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott.
She also said, from what she heard, “a lot of the community is not happy about the negative comments being made about [it]. Everything I’ve heard so far sounds like a wonderful community here, a family friendly community. One thing I took away from this is that people are paying high rent in the city. Here is where they can have skin in the game. They actually have a place to have a home.”
State Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, echoed a lot of Morales’ sentiments.
“It looks like a lot of places in east Texas,” Cain said. “It looks like my family’s place in Louisiana.” He said those on the tour asked for crime data and encouraged others to come to the neighborhood. Referring to less expensive or mobile homes in the community, he said, “Having less money shouldn’t be illegal.”
Cain also explained that the tour went to all areas of the community, from the older lots where there were initially little to no deed restrictions to the newer ones where there are deed restrictions and builders have built homes.
“They took us to all the places, they didn’t hide anything,” he said. “They were very transparent. It was better than what I was expecting, actually.
“The things we were seeing [in news reports] we were not seeing the full picture. I think what we saw was improved from that. There are issues here that I see around the state.”
From Colony Ridge tour yesterday with lawmakers, @BriscoeCain said, “It looks like a lot of places in east Texas. It looks like my family’s place in Louisiana.” Referring to less expensive or manufactured homes in the community, he said, “Having less money shouldn’t be illegal.” pic.twitter.com/Xz7rSG9oXq— Bethany Blankley (@BethanyBlankley) October 6, 2023
Sheena Rodriguez, founder of Alliance for a Safe Texas, who had been to Colony Ridge before, said she couldn’t believe all of the nice new homes that were being built.
“I think it’s very unfair and biased that some groups are not posting pictures or videos of the whole community,” she said. “I took video and pictures and posted them online so everyone can see the entire neighborhood.
“I do believe there are serious issues, like flooding and crime, but the way some groups are portraying this indicates they don’t really care about these issues. If they actually cared they’d be open and transparent and offer serious solutions as I did when I first contacted Gov. Greg Abbott about issues in the community a year ago and again in July. I’m hopeful the legislature will address the flooding and crime issues as they are impacting not just this area but all over Texas.
“It’s infuriating that groups are not being open, honest or transparent when making their accusations about the community. Why were so many people doing fly overs in helicopters and not on the ground? You can’t see the quality of homes from the air. There’s a lot of fearmongering, and demonizing Hispanic Americans in the process is shameful.”
After Colony Ridge resident Cynthia Silva was interviewed by The Center Square, multiple news outlets contacted her asking her to give them a tour, including The New York Times, The Associated Press and others. She said she took time out of her day for several days to show them the different subdivisions and explained the history of the neighborhood and how she and her family came to live there. Her family, like the majority of the residents living there, over 85%, have moved from Harris County, primarily from the Houston area because of high crime, the developer told The Center Square.
“Every single reporter I spoke to said they didn’t understand where the accusations were coming from,” Silva told The Center Square. “They also said they’ve traveled all over Texas and that Colony Ridge was normal by comparison to other areas they’d been and wasn’t the worst they’d seen in Texas.”
She also participated in the tour with lawmakers on Thursday, driving throughout multiple subdivisions. Afterwards, “the lawmakers confirmed in their talks with us that Colony Ridge is not a colonia,” she said. For over a year, some have claimed the development was a colonia until The Center Square reported on actual colonias identified by the state. While the media reports about the community dropped the colonia accusation, they’re still claiming the neighborhood is a haven for illegal aliens. The Center Square interviewed Hispanic American residents who said the accusations are unfair and harmful to the community. Since then, they’ve said they’re fearful because of all the negative media coverage.
Silva said the lawmakers also “expressed concerns about people in the community being afraid and embarrassed by criticisms being made by some groups. We already knew what the lawmakers were going to say because it’s not a surprise to us. We love living here. National attention was a blessing in disguise because it will hopefully encourage the legislature to require Liberty County to provide services we’ve haven’t been getting for years.”
On the same day as the tour, Gov. Greg Abbott called a third special legislative session for the legislature to consider a range of bills related to school choice, border security, vaccine mandates, and public safety issues in communities like Colony Ridge in Liberty County.