What Is a "Colonia?"
Colonias are rural communities located
within 150 miles of the US-Mexican Border. They often lack the basic necessities
most Americans take for granted - running water, electricity, and paved roads.
These mostly unincorporated communities began to be developed in the 1950s and
continue to exist for a variety of reasons, such as poor land use regulations.
Without safe, sanitary and affordable housing, drinkable water, sewer and drainage
systems, colonias struggle with issues often associated with "Third World" countries.
What Is a "Migrant Farmworker?"
A migrant farmworker is someone who
works primarily in agriculture or an agriculture-related industry, like food processing.
"Migrant" farmworkers move from 'home base" communities in patterns known as "migrant
streams." "Seasonal" farmworkers live in communities year-round. Across the United
States, migrant/famworkers face severely rundown housing, overcrowding issues,
and high housing costs.
More Facts about Colonias and Migrant Farmworkers
- From 2001-2004, 29 percent of hired crop workers interviewed in the Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) had family incomes that were below the federal poverty level.
- Colonias residents have an average income of $5,000/year. The vast majority of U.S. counties
that have been poor for four decades or more are in the Texas border region.
- The border region saw a rapid 22% growth in the 1990s.
- The colonia crowding rate is four times the national average.
- 85% of Colonias residents are U.S. citizens; 97% are Hispanic.
- Farmworkers brave extreme weather conditions and exposure to chemicals in their work.·
- 33% of farmworkers live in moderate to severely substandard housing
- About 33% of farmworkers pay more than 1/3 of their income for housing.
- Areas in the US with the most serious farmworker housing problems" are Florida and the Northwest.
- The 52% crowding rate for farmworkers is 10 times the national average.
- 88% of farmworkers are estimated to be Hispanic; 45% have children.