Understanding the Colonias Investment Areas

Located along the U.S. and Mexico border, colonias communities lack a widely accepted definition and standardized boundaries, hindering investment. Fannie Mae and the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) have partnered to address this underserved market. Insights gained from our research are leading to greater understanding of the colonias region and potential investment opportunities.

Working Toward a Better Understanding of Colonia Communities for Mortgage Access and Finance

This research proposes an industry-standard, universal definition of colonias communities. The adoption of this definition can increase the effectiveness of future research and can help increase the understanding of potential investment opportunities. Learn more about this unique region and the 2.5 million people who call it home.

Colonias Mapping Tool

Find colonias communities and explore detailed tract and county data using our interactive mapping tool.

Download census tract level data that defines Colonias Investment Areas. The data also identifies how many communities in each Colonias Investment Area are associated with a federal, state, or local program.

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Housing in the Lower Mississippi Delta

The Mississippi River cuts through the rich alluvial plains and swamps of the deep south. The Lower Mississippi Delta has distinct economies, cultures, and even languages, which set it apart from much of mainstream America. With the legacies of a fading agricultural economy and the race based system which drove it, the region still endures a systemic and long-term economic depression which stifles the quality of life for many of its inhabitants.

Updated September 2013

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Housing in Central Appalachia


This Rural Research Report details the housing, economic and social characteristics of Central Appalachia.

The Appalachians’ plentiful natural resources, including coal, natural gas, and timber, played a key role in the growth of the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries and continue to be vital to the nation’s economic well-being. The region’s distinctive culture and rich heritage have also left their mark on the American experience both culturally and economically. Despite its cultural distinction, the Appalachian region is more commonly known for its economic challenges. High poverty rates, poor housing, and limited economic opportunities have persisted for generations.

Updated September 2013

Housing in the Border Colonias

Updated September 2013The border region between the United States and Mexico is dotted with thousands of rural communities characterized by extreme poverty and severely substandard living conditions. These communities, commonly called colonias, are overwhelmingly inhabited by individuals and families of Mexican heritage. Poor housing conditions are common in the colonias with an old, deteriorating housing stock, combined with newer units that do not meet building codes.

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Housing on Native American Lands

Over 500 Native American tribes reside in disparate locations across the United States, and Native American lands can be found in all regions of the United States. While geographically diverse, these communities are the product of a common set of historical and political actions. Persistent poverty and inadequate housing conditions are often prevalent on many Native American Lands.

Conducting Homeless Counts on Native American Lands – A Toolkit

Executive Summary

Homelessness in rural areas can be difficult to address. Small spread-out populations make homeless counts difficult to accurately conduct in rural communities. However, these counts are often critical to effectively ensure that rural communities receive the support necessary to assist homeless persons in securing safe, permanent housing. This difficulty is further compounded in rural communities on American Indian, Alaska Native, and Hawaiian Home Land (AIANHH) lands. Issues surrounding tribal mistrust of the federal government, a lack of understanding of tribal sovereignty and diversity among Indian nations by outside entities, cultural competencies, and legal complexities associated with tribal lands create additional challenges to conducting an accurate count. Furthermore, situations of people in need on Native American lands often do not fit federal definitions of homelessness, which increases the difficulty in accessing funding. As a result, homelessness is often under or inaccurately counted and populations remain grossly underserved.

To address the aforementioned concerns, AIANHH communities need to be able to conduct accurate homeless counts internally. This flexible toolkit highlights steps, tools, and methods that can be used to complete an accurate homeless count on AIANHH lands. The toolkit is based upon past research as well as interviews with key stakeholders in the field. The toolkit is organized around four critical steps:

  1. Outreach and engagement on AIANHH lands
  2. Survey planning and implementation
  3. Partnering with researchers and intermediary organizations
  4. Funding the project

Two case studies are included to provide in-depth pictures of how two tribal communities, the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota and the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa in North Dakota, approached a housing and homeless needs assessment on their reservations.

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Nonprofit Capacity in the Lower Mississippi Delta Region

In high-need regions, such as the Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD), there is a lack of affordable, decent housing, and a dwindling supply of resources to address these needs. Nonprofit housing developers are a critical resource in rural communities, as these entities are often responsible for a significant amount of the affordable housing provision that occurs (Cook et al, 2009). Despite their significance in the community development sector, very little is often known about the network of nonprofit organizations that operate in rural communities or the gaps in service that may exist in these regions.

When nonprofit organizations operate in high-need areas, such as the Lower Mississippi Delta, the impact of serving low-income individuals and families can be exponentially greater than under otherwise-available resources. Obtaining accurate, detailed information about some of the housing programs that are offered in the LMD will assist overall community development efforts, as stakeholders will have increased insight into the institutional resources these organizations provide and be better able to effectively plan for housing and economic development activities.

 This guide provides an overview of nonprofit capacity in the Lower Mississippi Delta region with a focus on organizations that provide housing services. The guide highlights the programs offered by these organizations, identifies geographic service areas and gaps, and assesses capacity strengths and weaknesses within the region. Stakeholders can use this resource to assess the organizational infrastructure needs of the region, to better understand the assets in place, and to target initiatives.