Established in 1991, the College of Architecture’s Colonias Program improves life for nearly 500,000 Texans along the Texas-Mexico border who live in more than 2,000 unincorporated communities. Known as colonias, these areas lack critical infrastructure such as electricity, potable water, sewage, paved roads or internet. Their remote location and language and cultural barriers prevent many of these residents, who are largely Hispanic, from accessing health care, education, and job training and placement.
The program’s 42 resource centers help increase residents’ quality of life by connecting them to vital services. By partnering with BUILD, a Texas A&M student organization that transforms shipping containers into mobile medical clinics, the program recently added a clinic near Laredo where county health employees now support residents with basic medical services. This is the seventh health clinic the program has introduced to the area.
The program also trains members of the colonias to become promotoras, key individuals who connect their neighbors with helpful resources. “By training local residents to navigate different social service systems, we’re building up the colonias from within,” explained Oscar Muñoz, the program’s director.