logo image
welcome statement case study cities research methodology research findings and databases network publications
welcome statement research findings and databases

This research project was directed by LBJ School Professor Peter M. Ward and was funded by a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to conduct sustainable housing policy research and policy development for self-help in Texas colonias and other similar communities. It builds upon research and databases created in 2000 and will offer a longitudinal perspective from two cross-sectional databases for 2000-2010 (see “Title Regularization Study 2001-2” in this Texas Housing Studies area).

The Ford Foundation Reports comprises three main elements. Report # 1 is a changing lot occupancy re-study that provides benchmark data on the take-up occupancy of formerly vacant lots in existing colonias and settlements since the original survey undertaken as an LBJ Policy Research Project. Report # 2 is restudy of sustainable housing improvements in several colonias outside Rio Grande City (Starr County) where in 2001-2 Dr. Ward led a UT-Texas/A&M team to evaluate the impact of a program to provide clean property titles to residents (Title Regularization Study…”. It offers a detailed “snapshot” (ten years later) to understand: the extent and nature of improvements that have been made since title regularization; how improvements were financed & housing market performance in light of the 2008-9 housing and financial crisis; and it explores the potential for help home owner to incorporate more sustainable and “green” technologies and practices. A third Report describes an computer interactive Cost-Benefit Home Intervention Tool (C-BHIT) that communities and the households themselves may use in order to gauge the utility and benefits of “green” and other self-build housing improvement investments in their homes.

The study was conducted by Dr. Ward and a graduate student team between September 2010 and December 2011, and was concluded in June 2012. Dr Ward’s Introduction and Overview of the Research Project: “Housing Sustainability, Self-help and Upgrading in Texas Colonias: A Longitudinal Perspective -- 2002 plus 10” offers an overview of the study and the main findings that is designed to be read as a preliminary to entering each individual report. Read here.

  • 2000-10 Colonias Lot Occupancy Study

    • Report
    • This constitutes Report # 1 (38 pages) and begins with a general guide to our methodology for tracking lot occupancy changes over time. This is then used to analyze occupancy changes in 22 Texas subdivisions over the past decade (2000-2010). Principal findings and policy implications follow. Read here.

    • Methodology

      We have also developed a number of tools to assist any researchers interested in using this methodology to conduct their own analysis.

      The “Data Collection and Analysis Guide” provides detailed instructions – with images – for applying the method. Researchers may want to reference this guide while reading the methodology section of the report and vice versa. Read here.

      The “Lot Occupation Study Workbook” contains the study database (EXCEL sheet # 1) and a number of additional calculations that inform our report. The study workbook is also intended to serve as an example of a populated database for future researchers to consult. Read here.

      The “Master Template Workbook” provides an adjusted framework – with embedded formulae - that future researchers can use to enter and analyze their own data. Read here.

  • 2000-10 Starr County Home Improvement Study

    • Instruments

      The survey questionnaires are made available as word documents in order that they may be adapted for use by researchers elsewhere. The “Flexible Survey” instruments are broken up into segments that also contain sections not used in our home improvement survey – such as sections on health, education, civic activity, transportation needs and use, etc. These add-on sections were requested by NGOs and other community groups so that they might create their own baseline surveys on issues that are of particular concern and interest to them.


      1. English Flexible Survey.docx -- Ford Foundation Flexible Survey in English
      2. Spanish Flexible Survey.docx -- Ford Foundation Flexible Survey in Spanish
      3. Starr Correo-Mail-back survey English.doc
      4. Starr Corrreo-Mail-back survey Spanish.doc
      5. Starr Hand-collected survey English.doc
      6. Starr Hand-collected survey Spanish.doc

    • Datasets

      The 02-11 database contains data on 115 households that participated in both the 2002 and 2011 studies. Primarily, these data are used throughout the report to assess the impact of the provision of title on the investment and borrowing practices colonia residents.

      The 11 database contains data on all 201 households that participated in the 2011 study. These data provide a detailed portrait of socio-economic and physical conditions in the study colonias.

      1. 02-11 Final Blinded.sav -- SPSS version of the combined 02-11 database with identifiers removed
      2. 02-11 Final Blinded.dta -- Stata version of the combined 02-11 database with identifiers removed
      3. 02-11 Final Blinded.xls -- Excel version of the combined 02-11 database with identifiers removed
      4. 11 Final Blinded.sav -- SPSS version of the 2011 database with identifiers removed
      5. 11 Final Blinded.xls -- Excel version of the 2011 database with identifiers removed
      6. Coding guide (02-11).xlsx -- Excel coding guide for the 02-01 database
      7. Coding guide (11).xlsx -- Excel coding guide for the 11 database

    • Ford Foundation Report #2: Documenting a decade of change in starr county colonias: survey design and results. Read here.

  • 2011 Home Improvement User Interactive Audit Model

    • Purpose and Use

    • Entry to the Model

      Prior to pulling up the Model itself first time users are encouraged to view the Tutorial for general orientation about how to create your own home improvement specs and cost benefit analysis.

    • Report #3