Redefining Rural: Colonias Receive New Definition from the FHFA

Congratulations and a sigh of relief are in order, following the redefinition of colonias into “colonias census tracts” by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). This landmark decision, which has been in the works for quite some time, was backed by advocacy work from PRT Partners come dream. come build. and the Housing Assistance Council.


Before FHFA’s recent decision to redefine colonias on a federal level, colonias were pretty much in a grey area. For decades, federal policymakers have attempted to define colonias, which proved unsuccessful.

At one point, colonias were deemed invalid or ignored if they were near mixed-income/non-colonia communities. This new “colonia census tract” definition generates laser-focused concentration on colonias, no matter who or what surrounds them. Even better, the new definition incorporates census tracts that have colonias into the “rural area” definition. This helps federal agencies accurately get resources to where they need to be!

FHFA’s new approach offers a solution to this long-time issue. At PRT, we further recommend sharing this definition across all federal agencies, including HUD, USDA, + Treasury.¬†Achieving unity on the federal definition of colonia across agencies taps these communities into a suite of federal programs that would enable true integration of colonias into surrounding economies.


Read PRT’s history of advocacy re: colonias and our reaction to the official news here..

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