Families living in storage units

DONNA, TX – Fiesta Flea Market is classified as a commercial vending establishment for sellers. The site includes almost 100 storage units which are used as living quarters as well as for sellers in a Texas community.

The units are rented with nothing inside and with two electrical plugs on the outside. There is no lighting, no heat or running water in half of the units. The showers are outside and they are co-ed and serve all 100 units. Added to this are another 100 family members.

The six commodes serve all the residents and the sellers and buyers on weekends. The toilet system breaks down and overflows. There are no water faucets, no fire extinguishers, no visible fire hydrants. The units have only one entrance or exit in case of a fire.

The flea market is surrounded by a 10-foot-tall metal fence with three gates. The gates are locked at 9 or 10 p.m. and unlocked at 6 a.m. There’s no traffic in or out during that time.

The rents have recently been raised from $165 – plus a $50 deposit – to $200 plus $50 for deposit. A late charge is applied if not paid on the first day of the month.

Apart from the bad living conditions there are complaints from present and past tenants of illegal evictions. The evicted tenants do not receive due process and are given days to clear out. Most do not have transportation and no way of taking their furniture which becomes the property of the landlord.

The tenants have met and decided to notify the local city department heads and Hidalgo County commissioners to address this problem. The next step is to seek aid and assistance from local groups that assist tenants in colonia-style dwellings who ask for help. The last step is to notify the media and publicly expose the situation since the city never acts on these matters.

For more information, contact Juan Torres at (956) 463-9537 and Graciela Luna at (956) 266-0037.

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