New community center serves San Juan residents

Handprinting cermony, ribbon cutting celebrate opening of new CHUD facility

SAN JUAN - Residents of "colonias" in the San Juan area on the Texas - Mexico border have access to numerous resources with the October 2002 opening of the North San Juan Community Resource Center, the 16th center that the Colonias Program at Texas A&M University has helped to establish.

The center, approximately 10 miles east of McAllen, provides a place where residents of colonias can organize community programs and connect with health, education, workforce and other services, officials noted.

Colonias are underdeveloped, unincorporated communities that lack one or more major physical infrastructure elements, such as running water, sewer systems, paved roads, electricity, safe and sanitary housing and storm drainage. The physical and social isolation of the colonias residents creates a major obstacle to improving their living conditions, officials explained.

Hidalgo County Precinct 2 Commissioner Hector "Tito" Palacios, Hidalgo County WIC, Texas Migrant Council and Texas A&M's Center for Housing and Urban Development (CHUD) joined forces to build the center.

Hidalgo County, in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley, has more than half of the colonias on the Texas-Mexico Border.

Headquartered at the Texas A&M College of Architecture, CHUD operates the Colonias Program, an outreach and research effort to improve the quality of life for residents of colonias.

The grand opening ceremony included remarks by Hidalgo County Judge Eloy Pulido, San Juan Mayor Robert Laredo, Hidalgo County WIC Director Norma Longoria, Texas Migrant Council CEO Mary Capello, Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, Executive Associate Dean Mark J. Clayton, and others.

A hand-printing ceremony took place directly following the centers grand opening ribbon cutting on October 17. In this ceremony, included at all colonias community resource center openings, community leaders and colonia children put their handprints on the inside walls using several colors of paint. The handprints symbolize community ownership of the center.

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Media Contact
Lori Cagle,
Center for Housing and Urban Development
(979) 862-2371

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