The Other Side of Eagle Ford Shale


ITC, UTSA look at the consequences of the latest Texas oil boom

(SAN ANTONIO) – The oil boom in the Eagle Ford Shale region of Dimmit, La Salle, and Zavala counties permanently transformed the face of South Texas. For five years, the petroleum industry generated fantastic economic opportunities, creating employment and wealth. Nonetheless, there were consequences to the scale of economic impact that the oil boom had on the region.

In a new exhibit at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, May 13 to Oct. 1, researchers from the UTSA Mexico Center and UTSA Institute for Economic Development showcase the results of an ethnographic study on the Eagle Ford Shale’s effect on housing.

With the demand for workers in the oil fields, Zavala, Dimmit and LaSalle counties saw a surge in housing construction, along with amenities for the area, including increased commerce, fast food, short-term lodging, and other products and services.

The virtual overnight surge of workers arriving in the region created a shortage in the housing supply. The three counties, which relied previously on rural agrarian economic generators, saw an influx of demand and an influx of money, driving up the cost of housing and pushing the American Dream of home ownership out of range for many local residents.

“These counties already lacked accessible, quality, affordable housing,” said Harriett Romo, UTSA professor of sociology and director of the Mexico Center. “Rents increased exponentially. When families pay more than 35 percent of available income for housing, they are unable to afford medical care, educational expenses, savings for retirement, or investments in the younger generation and their community.”

Over their two years of studying the region, the research team accumulated hundreds of photographs and hours of interviews for the exhibit, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The exhibit sections follow three key factors the researchers set out to record: the impact of oil and gas exploration on low-cost housing stock, how stakeholders responded to housing availability and affordability in the region, and the strategies local officials used to address affordable housing and infrastructure needs in the region.

Download Art-Hub-by-Jhali.pdf

Cotulla Texas is known for its oil production, where people mainly from South Texas come to work in these fields. People working in this field live in Cotulla temporarily, and tend to head back home once the work is done. Consequently, the number of hotels, motels, inns, and mobile home parks has increased dramatically, giving Cotulla the title of “The Hotel Capital of The Eagle Shale”. As of 2015, it was determined that the number of hotels had gone from 3-4 in 2010, to 25, which reflected a dramatic increase in relation to Cotulla’s dimensions. When it came to population, it was found out that once oil field workers went back home, population dropped and many of these buildings were closed down and abandoned. This tralated for Cotulla’s residents as fire hazards and higher numbersof unemployment.

Download Daycare-After-School-Facility-Fitness-Center-by-Irina.pdf

Presently, a site on North Baylor street is mostly free of structures. The reuse of existing modular housing and the addition of a newly developed structure will create a facility to enhance life for Cotulla’s residents. Both a Child care center and After school facility will provide a place for 200 to 250 children, from infants to high school. The Fitness center could benefit not only the children, but all residents of the community as well.

Download Hotel-Conversion-by-Jeffry-Armstrong.pdf

Cotulla is known as the hotel capital of Eagle Ford Shale. The oil boom brings people, money and jobs to little town Texas and just as quickly the industry can go bust. Communities are left with empty hotels and not enough affordable permanent housing. These hotels provide an opportunity to create affordable housing quickly to meet the needs ofthe city and prevent any further degredation to the town and buildings themselves.

Download Improving-Efficiency-in-Modular-Housing-by-Aleida-N-Gonzalez.pdf

This project should reach to increase and improve the overall life quality of a modular home. To achieve the desired result, the level of insulation was increased, windows will be added to increase ventilation and natural light to illuminate the interior naturally. The factor that stands out most of this project is the ‘shelter’ that protects the modular home from the sun to help reduce the impact of the sun. the structure is made of metal to be able to support the weight of the solar panels.

The insulation will be increased to meet the Texas energy code standard, which reduced the power usage of the modular home by approximately 54%. The solar panels ended up with the other 50% of energy consumption. Now, in an average of 25 years the total of a saving of approximately $ 20,000.

Download Las-Palmas-Community-Center-by-Justin-and-Tiff.pdf

Las Palmas Circle is a multi-generational space that repurposes existing hotels and occupies unused space to provide a functional, convenient community. With affordable housing at one end of the site, senior housing on the other, and a park and market residing between them, this community not only benefits those who live there, but all citizens of Cotulla.

The Idea of the project is create affordible, livable space from an exisiting set of spaces. To do this we must design around the original structure ,plumbing and facade pieces in order to keep it affordable for the users. The only changes to the Candlewood Suites building was just interior walls to genreate multiple bedroom units, deletion of some appliances, addition of a landry area per floor, and Exterior paint. The units will be priced from as low as 290.00 to 510.00, depending on size.

Download The-Lighthouse-Community-by-Calvin.pdf

Bringing life back into Crystal City. The lighthouse community is located in the heart of the historic city.With a goal to enhance the community by incorporating low income housing with a focus on providing the necessary tools and amenities for our residents to thrive. Whether that be:

  • Community center with the potential for unlimited knowledge from our computer center.
  • Loving daycare there for you when you need it most, allowing you to go to work without the added stress of worrying about your children.
  • Laundromat giving easy access to fresh and clean clothes right down the street from their homes.
  • Multipurpose area that can be rented out or used by the community for meetings, dancing practice, venues… etc.
  • Gym to support a healthy lifestyle.
  • Basketball court providing an active lifestyle in a social environment.
  • Safe places for the children to play.
  • Community garden, giving a healthy alternative for produce grown in your own backyard.
  • Farmers market and pop up food truck area that gives the residents an opportunity to make some extra income.

Download Medical-Center-by-Mauricio.pdf

Convert local hotel (Fair Field Inn) into a medical center:

  • 84,000 sf New Addition
  • 32,500 sf Renovation
  • 3 Stories
  • Rehab Space
  • Medical Surgical Sub Specialties
  • Inpatient Rooms
  • Cost Savings: $12,817,400.00

Download Wetlands-by-Katie-Clint-James-Trevor.pdf

WHY A WETLAND: Remediation Through Constructed Wetlands

  • Provides a Safer Alternative to Treatment and Disposal Methods: Less energy consumed - No degradation of the existing environment - Cost effective
  • Allows for Reuse of Water after Filtration: Provides an alternative source for water - One that is close and reuses resources
  • Provides a Place for Wildlife and Vegetation to Flourish: A wetland is home to many animal and plant species - Attracts migratory species
  • Provides an Alternative Form of Job and Income Opportunities: Jobs for maintaining the wetlands and accompanying facilities will open - Interests like bird watching and education can be exploited
  • Provides a Low Cost Filtration System: Unsafe water can filter through the wetland for community use