Some New Mexicans have been battling for years to obtain access to the basic infrastructure and services that most of us take for granted. The communities they live in house tens of thousands of New Mexicans, but while they may be just a short drive from Albuquerque or Las Cruces, they frequently lack maintained roads, sanitary sewer systems, access to potable water, and electricity. While the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the term “colonia” to refer exclusively to communities within 150 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Center’s colonias project aims to improve conditions for all rural New Mexico communities with high rates of poverty and limited access to essential infrastructure and government services

Learn about colonias in southern New Mexico and throughout the state and what the Center on Law and Poverty has done to assess the needs of these communities and to take action to improve living conditions there.

Pajarito Mesa is a colonia just five miles outside of Albuquerque, where a vibrant community has spent the last decade fighting for access to clean water, roads, healthcare, electricity, and other essential services.

The Center works to combat the predatory use of real estate contracts – seller-financed instruments for purchasing land. Real estate contracts are often misused to prevent colonia residents from building equity in their homes and to coerce buyers into making payments on land lacking essential infrastructure.

Through community outreach and training of community advocates, the Center aims to increase colonia residents’ access to public benefits, healthcare and civil legal services.