HUD grant to help Mesalands launch building trades program

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

A $600,000 grant will be awarded to Mesalands Community College from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced U.S. Sen Pete Domenici on Friday in a press release.

“It will allow us to develop three programs that will not only help the college but the city of Tucumcari. It’s very exciting.” said Phillip Barry, president of Mesalands.

Mesalands will receive the grant as part of HUD’s Hispanic Serving Institutions Assisting Communities Program. The college will use the money to implement an extensive community development program that includes a new college building trades program, neighborhood revitalization support services, and community entrepreneurship development incentives to help improve the region’s economic viability, the senator’s press release said.

“A portion of the funds will be used to help establish a building trades program and for the building trades to build two homes, that the college will sell and use the proceeds to build two more houses,” Barry said.
He estimated the market value of each home would be about $90,000.

The portion for the building trades will also enhance a $360,000 grant that the college received last year from Gov. Bill Richardson for technical education centers.

A new building is currently under construction, next to Building C, that will house the building trades program, Barry said. The building is scheduled to be completed early next year.

Because there is an inadequate supply of housing in Tucumcari, the Tucumcari Greater Economic Development Corp. and the Tucumcari School District officials identified the building trades as way to build both jobs and housing stock, Barry said. Concurrent enrollment for students in high school is expected to be offered at Mesalands in the building trades program, he said.

“The whole concept goes back about four years, and it’s all dovetailing nicely,” he said.

The grant will also address housing through the development of a Habitat for Humanity chapter, Barry said. “We hope to get all the area churches involved and their parishioners,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity, through the donation of materials and volunteer assistance hours, builds homes for people who meet certain income guidelines, provides for no- or low-nterest mortgages and requires buyers to contribute their “sweat equity” by working on the home.

And another portion of the HUD grant will be used to establish an art incubator, Barry said. “It’ll be used to train artists and develop their entrepreneurial skills in the development of a business,” he said, adding that it will be a certificate program.

“The appropriate funding will help Mesalands Community College make strides in accomplishing development goals for Tucumcari and Quay County,” said Domenici in the press release.  “I commend HUD for recognizing the need and potential in the city of Tucumcari and hope that it is only the beginning of great things.”

The Hispanic Serving Institutions Assisting Communities (HSIAC) Program provides funding to Hispanic Serving Institutions to help them expand their role in community development, especially within low and moderate-income areas.