Doña Ana County is home to 37 colonia communities. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a colonia is a rural community or neighborhood located within 150 miles of the U.S./Mexican border that often lacks adequate infrastructure and other basic services. It is estimated that there are 138 colonias in the State of New Mexico; Doña Ana County is home to more than 25% of those colonias. These communities and neighborhoods may lack many of the basic necessities most people take for granted, such as paved roads, sanitary sewer services, and safe affordable housing. The lack of these basic necessities makes life in colonias more challenging; just getting to work or school can be difficult without proper roads, and buying food is difficult with limited local stores.
A Colonia Master Plan will focus on creating solutions that look at employment, transportation, economic development, and housing at the same time. Traditionally, plans try to solve these problems individually, but the needs of the colonias are great. By taking a comprehensive approach, the Colonia Master Plan aims to serve as a model for future colonia improvement efforts.
Image source: Forgotten Americas, pbs.org