Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Building Homes and Strengthening Communities

Colonia Housing Standards (CHS)

In June of 1996, the Department successfully obtained a waiver from HUD allowing the use of a new set of housing standards for Texas colonias. This new set of minimum standards, known as the "Colonia Housing Standards" or "CHS", was adopted by HUD and FHA, to insure loans in the colonias. The new standards provide as a basis, safe, sanitary and structurally sound housing needed to alleviate the existing health risks in the area.

Site and Neighborhood

The site and neighborhood shall not be subject to serious adverse environmental conditions such as:

  • flooding
  • open sewer hazards and septic tank back-ups
  • accumulation of trash or refuse.


The dwelling unit shall have direct access for the occupants:

  • accessible from public roadways
  • operable doors and windows with serviceable locks.

Structure and Materials

Structure and materials must be such that the dwelling is structurally sound and does not pose a threat to the health and safety of the occupants:

  • structure shall be free from any serious defects such as leaning, buckling, or tripping hazards
  • roof shall be firm and weather tight
  • in the case of a manufactured home, the home must be permanently anchored to the site to prevent movement.

Lead-Based Paint

All structures shall be inspected for defective paint surfaces in units constructed prior to 1978 which are occupied by families with children under seven (7) years of age. Identified defective painted surfaces in such structures built before 1978 shall have abatement measures applied when:

  • the painted surfaces have cracking, peeling, scaling, chipping, or loose paint
  • when a family occupying the unit includes a child under the age of seven (7) years with confirmed concentration of lead in whole blood of 25 ug/dl (micrograms of lead per deciliter of whole blood) or higher
  • each unit shall meet the requirements of Section 302 of the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act, 42 U.S.C. 4822.

Water Supply

  • the water supply shall be free from contamination
  • the water heater shall not be located in a bathroom, bedroom, or clothes closet
  • potable water shall be supplied to all kitchens and bathrooms.

Interior Air Quality

The interior air quality shall be free of pollutants in the air:

  • free from carbon monoxide, sewer gas, and fuel gas
  • bathrooms shall have at least one operable window or other adequate exhaust ventilation
  • all windows shall have screens to cover each window opening.


Each room shall have natural or artificial lighting to permit normal indoor activities:

living and sleeping rooms shall have at least one window

  • a ceiling or wall type light fixture shall be present and working in the bathroom and kitchen;
  • at least two (2) electrical outlets shall be present in the living area, kitchen, and bedrooms
  • all rehabilitation or new construction will comply with the National Electric Code which includes the installation of Ground Fault Interruption Circuits (GFIC) in the kitchen and bathroom.

Thermal Environment

The dwelling unit shall have and be capable of maintaining a healthy thermal environment:

  • the unit will be energy efficient
  • the unit will have operable windows to provide cross ventilation
  • room heaters that burn natural gas, heating oil, kerosene, or other flammable fuels shall be vented to the exterior of the unit.

Sanitary Facilities

The dwelling unit shall contain its own sanitary facilities which will be in proper working condition, which can be used in privacy, and which are adequate for personal cleanliness and the disposal of human waste:

  • a sink, bathtub and/or shower, and flush toilet shall be a room separate from the other parts of the unit
  • the unit’s sanitary facilities shall be connected to an approved sewer or septic system.


The dwelling unit shall be secure:

  • all exterior doors and windows shall be secured with operable locks
  • at a minimum, there shall be one UL approved, battery operated or hardwired smoke detector on each level of the unit.

Food Preparation

The dwelling unit shall contain space and equipment in the proper operating condition to prepare and serve food in a sanitary manner:

  • each unit shall contain a range and a sink
  • each kitchen sink shall have running water
  • the sink shall drain into an approved public or private sewer or septic system.