Pima County to ask for $2 mil to help colonias

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There are many poor communities in Southern Arizona which the federal government refers to as "colonias".

It's a designation used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine who gets federal aid.

The government by definition says an area which does not have adequate sewage, water and housing qualifies as a colonia and therefore is eligible for federal help.

Next week, Pima County officials will redesignate several areas as colonias and ask the federal governor for $2 million is assistance.

Some of those areas are Three Points, Sierrita, Ajo, Old Nogales Highway and Rillito.

Some of the areas are a result of wildcat developments. Some of them are historically poor.

"What you see in terms of wildcatting communities is the don't have basic infrastructure," says Ramone Valadez, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. "Your sewers, your water, your roads, a lot of that contributes to them being colonias."

But it's not just the wildcats which get the help.

Rillito is not a wildcat but still needs help.

"We need housing," says Gertha Brown Hurd, a local resident. "The main thing we need is good housing."

A drive through the town shows just as many abandoned houses and occupied homes.

One reason the town lost its fire service.

"They're telling us if they have to come in and put out a fire, it will cost at least $5,000," Brown Hurd says. "We don't have that kind of money."

But those are the communities the county wants to help.

"Clearly, we don't have the financial resources in Pima County to address those issues," Valadez says. "So this designation is intended to get some federal money to try to alleviate the problem."

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