The facility was made possible through a coordinated effort between Hidalgo County, the State of Texas, local legislators, and various other entities that contributed funding, in-kind donations, legislative efforts, administrative services, and other forms of assistance throughout the project's development.
In 2007, the 80th Texas Legislative Session appropriated $3 million for the construction of the substance abuse treatment facility.
In 2008, Hidalgo County Precinct 4 identified a 6.31 acre tract of land to convey to the State of Texas, Department of State Health Services, for the design and construction of the facility, and an operations plan was developed and submitted to the State of Texas.
In 2009, approximately $400,000 in funding was identified through the Texas Department of Emergency Management to reinforce and fortify the facility's infrastructure, allowing it to function and serve multiple purposes in the event of an emergency.
In 2010, officials broke ground and construction on the facility began.
In 2011, Hidalgo County Commissioners' Court named the facility after John Austin Peņa.
As per the agreement, the State of Texas will convey the property back to Hidalgo County upon completion of the facility.
The facility is named after the son of State Representative Aaron Peņa, John Austin Peņa, who passed away ten years ago on May 18, 2001 at the age of 16. In a resolution naming the center, Hidalgo County Commissioners' Court memorialized the legacy of John Austin's life, who continues to inspire the partnerships and collaborative efforts such as this to find community solutions to fight against drugs.