Colonias

What is a colonia? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines coloniasExternal Link iconas rural communities in close proximity to the U.S-Mexico border, lacking access to basic services such as water, sewer, or housing. Official socioeconomic data on these communities has typically been scarce, making it difficult for government agencies to secure federal funding that could improve colonia infrastructure.

BBER has developed an innovative technique for approximating colonia geographies and tabulating data that is representative of those communities. Using this techique, BBER tabulated 2010 Census data and American Community Survey (ACS) 2006-2010 5-Year Estimates for areas that approximate the geographic extent of various New Mexico colonias under a contract with the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA). The MFA has subsequently allowed BBER to publish the estimates, maps, and shapefiles to increase the amount of information available for New Mexico colonias. See some of the data visualizations associated with this project here. A brief description of the process is given below and a more detailed description is given in the Colonia Population and Socioeconomic Housing Characteristic Estimation PDF icondocument.

Colonia Downloadable Files:

Candidate Colonia Block Selection

The 2010 Census candidate colonia blocks were selected to approximate the geographic extent of each colonia. The selection process was conducted in ArcGIS by overlaying census block boundaries onto ortho-photography and zooming into colonia locations provided by an NMSU study. Block boundary data are from the Census Bureau's TIGER Program, while the ortho-photography are vintage 2011 images from the New Mexico Resource Geographic Information System (RGIS) Clearinghouse External Link icon. The maps (linked at left) present the images BBER used to select candidate colonia blocks for each colonia and the shapefile link contains the candidate colonia blocks for each colonia.

BBER has tabulated population and socioeconomic and housing characteristic estimates for 118 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designated colonias. It should be noted that some colonias are incorporated or are designated by the U.S. Census Bureau as Census Designated Places (CDPs). Census Bureau population and socioeconomic and housing characteristic estimates are available for these places, along with their boundaries. The process used by BBER to tabulate 2010 Census and ACS data did not use the incorporated municipality nor CDP information and may differ from what was available for those places by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Candidate Colonia Block Data Tabulation

Block population and housing data from the 2010 Census are aggregated for candidate colonia blocks for the estimated geographic colonia extent. Population data include total population counts, number of households, population living in households, average household size, and numbers of households by age of householder. Housing data include total housing unit counts, vacancy status, tenure (with mortgage status for owner-occupied units), and vacancy by type.

Colonia Block Group Tabulation

Block group socioeconomic and detailed housing estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS) 2006-2010 5-Year Estimates are also provided. These are the smallest units of geography for which socioeconomic and detailed housing estimates are available, but are geographically larger than blocks. Therefore, block group estimates may not be completely reflective of the approximated colonia, which was determined by aggregating blocks. The Excel table that contains ACS estimates for colonias by block group shows a percent that indicates the extent to which the ACS block group data reflect the colonia population in that block group. The percent is calculated by dividing the sum of the candidate colonia block population in that block group by the total population of the block group. These total population figures for both blocks and block groups are 100% counts from the 2010 census.

ACS estimates of population characteristics include total population, median household income; ratio of income to poverty, poverty status of persons; and poverty status by type of household. ACS detailed housing estimates include tenure (owner- and renter-occupied) by number of occupants per room; units in structure; year structure built; house heating fuel; complete plumbing facilities; complete kitchen facilities; median gross rent; and median home value. It should be noted that ACS data are developed from a sample and are subject to sampling variability. This is particularly true for small geographic areas, such as block groups.

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