CNN feature highlights college initiatives in Texas colonias

A July 7, 2011 CNN story on Texas colonias highlights recent and ongoing efforts led by the Texas A&M College of Architecture aimed at enhancing the quality of life in these impoverished border communities, many of which lack basic necessities such as potable water, electricity and sewer systems.

The story, posted as part of the news network’s ongoing 2010 U.S. Census project, “Defining America,” mentions on the community building, relief and education projects in Texas colonias coordinated by the college’s Center for Housing and Urban Development.

Through its Colonias Program, CHUD implements solutions that reduce the isolation of colonias residents and help them become full participants in the U.S. economy and society. It maintains 41 community resource centers concentrated on the border and is certified through the Department of Health Services to train and certify "promotoras," health advocates or community health leaders who connect residents to services.

The promotoras are making a big difference in the colonias, Oscar Muñoz, deputy director of CHUD, told CNN. “They're the ones making sure the next generation learns to use the system."

The CNN feature also notes a recent border studio project in the Los Lomas community where students designed and helped paint a community mural and led workshops on launching small businesses.

"Our strategy is to go into the communities and find out from them what their wants and needs are," Peter Lang, the associate professor of architecture who led the border studio told CNN. “It's also about helping to change their image so they can better relate to their surroundings and conquer the negative perceptions wrapped up in living in a developing community."

The CNN story, “Impoverished border town grows from shacks into community” can be viewed on the CNN website.

Muñoz is also quoted in a similar story, “Red Tape, Catch-22s Impede Progress in Texas' Colonias,” the first segment of a two-part feature, published July 8, 2011 in the Texas Tribune.

Also see the college news feature on the Los Lomas border studio, “Students help colonias residents improve living conditions during spring workshop.”

posted July 8, 2011