Colonia Outreach

 woman and baby outdoors

A program that focused on providing application assistance to families who may have been qualified for public benefits programs.

The Colonia Outreach Program provided outreach, information, eligibility pre-screening, and enrollment assistance for public programs to the colonias of Hidalgo and Starr counties, Texas. Colonias are typically rural, and made up of predominantly Hispanic and Latino populations. Texas colonias are home to an estimated 500,000 people. Often, these communities lack necessities such as potable water, safe housing, or electricity. Forty two percent of residents living within Texas colonias are below the poverty line, and another 19 percent are close to it.

The Colonia Outreach Program used Community Health Workers to conduct door-to-door outreach inside the colonias, an invaluable tool in helping residents access healthcare and social services. In many circumstances, access to these services is difficult for colonia residents. Transportation options for residents of the colonias are limited, and many residents are unaware of what public assistance programs they’re eligible for. Even if a resident is aware of their eligibility for an assistance program, they may face linguistic and cultural barriers that make it challenging to begin the application process. Door-to-door outreach conducted by Community Health Workers (CHWs) provided a proven approach that helped residents overcome these barriers.

A large group of smiling boys and girls pose.

MHP Salud’s Colonia Outreach program provided application assistance to the families who live in the colonias of the Rio Grande Valley. 

During their visits to residents, CHWs provided assistance with filling out applications for benefits programs such as TANF or SNAP. Community Health Workers followed up with individuals to determine whether their applications were successful or not. In the case an application was not successful, the residents were referred to another organization or local service for additional assistance.

CHWs also connected with the community at local health fairs and community centers. In the case that a resident didn’t have available transportation, our Community Health Workers offered services by walk-in or appointment at a nearby local health center.

The Colonia Outreach Program began in 2011 and concluded in August 2018. It was made possible through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

For more information on this program, please email