WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced $2 million in grants to stimulate job growth and business opportunities in chronically underserved rural areas along the U.S.-Mexico border region. Provided through HUD’s Border Community Capital Initiative (“Border Initiative”), grantees expect to leverage an additional $5.5 million from other public and private sources to increase investment in ‘colonias’ where there are few opportunities for businesses to access private capital.
HUD’s Border Initiative is a partnership among three federal agencies – HUD, the Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) and the Department of Agriculture – Rural Development (USDA-RD). The grant funding announced today is part of the White House Rural Council. The Council was launched by President Obama in 2012 to help create jobs and expand opportunities in rural communities.
HUD grants will provide direct investment and technical assistance to community development lending and investing institutions that focus on affordable housing, small business and community facilities to benefit the residents of colonias. HUD announced grants to the following organizations with investments in local counties:
Affordable Homes of South Texas (McAllen, TX)
Colonias located in Hidalgo, Willacy, Cameron, El Paso, and Webb counties.
Community Resource Group, Inc. (Fayetteville, AR)
Colonias along Texas-Mexico Border to include Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron, and Willacy counties.
The remaining 1.2 million will go to three other grantee's Accion Texas in San Antonio, Texas with $800,000, Tierra Del Sol Housing Corp. in Dona Ana County, New Mexico with $200,000 and International Sonoran Desert Alliance in Ajo, AZ with $200,000.
HUD, USDA-RD and the CDFI Fund have all identified lack of capacity among organizations serving the colonias and similar persistent poverty communities as a limiting factor in the effectiveness of federal programs. Inconsistent availability of limited public funding in any one region or community plays a role in this, because organizations specializing in affordable housing, small business support and community facilities cannot sustain themselves and grow. All of the agencies recognize that the targeted border communities and populations receive insufficient services because they lack organizations with the capacity to effectively respond to community needs. Conversely, higher-capacity organizations working along the border consistently cite lack of access to capital as a major barrier to expansion.
The Border Initiative focuses on improving colonias communities and creating asset building opportunities for residents by helping local financial institutions raise capital and to lend and invest it in their communities. Strengthening local community development lenders and investors will also widen the channels through which larger private institutions and federal agencies can reach potential home owners, renters, business owners, facilities operators and service providers who need their support.