The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded a $396,704 Community Outreach Partnership Center grant to Colorado State University that will be used to fund the university’s Community Organizing to Reach Empowerment Center.
This is the first grant that Colorado State has received from HUD. The HUD selection committee considered 140 submissions from various higher education institutions and awarded 15 grants nationwide.
HUD developed the COPC grant program for colleges and universities to address urban problems that challenge their communities. Colorado State will use the funding to launch the CORE Center, which will support residents of the Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park in building on their identified strengths to improve issues that affect the quality of life in their neighborhood.
Marilyn Thayer, director of the Even Start Learning Center in the College of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State, will serve as the principle investigator for the grant. Thayer also was appointed director of the CORE Center.
Faculty from the Department of Manufacturing Technology and Construction Management and Colorado State University Cooperative Extension will organize and facilitate housing development and improvement activities. Faculty from the School of Social Work, the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the Department of Management in the College of Business will support activities that focus on helping families gain the necessary skills to become healthy and successful in their lives. Through collaborative partnerships with local community agencies, activities will be developed to support the park residents through addressing issues of affordable housing and home improvement, public safety and personal well-being, education and employment opportunities.
"The HUD grant will provide new opportunities for the residents of Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park to address issues that may affect their quality of life," said Thayer. "Through my work with the mobile home park over the past 13 years, I have developed insights on the challenges as well as accomplishments that residents experience in their lives. Similar to many of us, they share hopes and dreams for themselves and their families."
The demographic survey of the Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park described urgency for addressing several urban issues affecting the residents’ quality of life. An estimated 2,500 residents currently reside in the 353 households in this park neighborhood, with many multiple families living in the same households.
More than 63 percent of the households in the park community are not able to earn an income to find affordable housing for their families. The majority of the residents earn less than $10.40 per hour, which falls below the housing wage of $12.29 per hour in Fort Collins. The vacancy rate for lower-cost housing units is zero.
Nearly two-thirds of the families in the area reported annual incomes of $20,000 or less per year, which is below poverty level. The unemployment rate for the mobile home park is more than twice the level for the state and county. The Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park also is known throughout the county as having the highest crime rate in both the city and the county.
Colorado State students will also be an integral part of helping to develop and implement the project activities. Through internships, practicum placements and service-learning opportunities, students will be able to gain a stronger understanding of diversity and the process of facilitating community development.
For more information about the grant or the CORE Center at Colorado State, contact Thayer at (970) 491-2580, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.