A housing initiative in Southeast Colorado
Communities in Southeast Colorado have long faced challenges with blighted housing and shortages on available housing stock. This housing shortage is largely due to the age of houses and the lack of appropriately trained labor in the area. Many of these houses were constructed before 1990, and a large percentage of those were constructed before 1939. Because the cost to repair, rebuild, or renovate the houses often exceeds their resale value, many commercial homebuilders will not build in the area.
That is why Attorney General Phil Weiser announced a new grant program in the Office of Community Engagement designed to both revitalize rural housing and support construction training programs at community colleges in Southeast Colorado.
The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, as part of its new Colorado Partnership for Education and Rural Revitalization (COPERR), will grant up to $5 million to Trinidad State Junior College, Lamar Community College, and Otero Junior College to develop skilled trades programs that will address labor shortages and increase availability of viable and affordable housing in Otero, Prowers, Las Animas, Crowley, Kiowa, Bent, and Baca counties. The program is funded through money the state received from the national mortgage settlement, a settlement reached in 2012 after 49 states sued mortgage servicers after the 2008 financial crisis.
Check back here for updates on COPERR and its continued progress.
Trinidad State Junior College welcomed its first group of students to its COPERR construction class in March of 2021, and registration is open for upcoming sessions throughout the rest of the year. Students will spend their mornings in class and their afternoons at the job site. The students will receive a $12 an hour stipend for their afternoon work. By the end of four weeks, students with perfect attendance will receive enough compensation to pay for more than 70% of the college in-state tuition. They will also receive basic hand tools and a tool belt worth about $350. Books needed for the class are also provided at no cost. Students will have access to equipment normally expected on a job site, including power tools, ladders, and safety equipment.
New four-week classes are scheduled to start on June 1, July 5, Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct.25, and Jan. 17 (2022).
Learn more, or register, at trinidadstate.edu/construction.
Learn more about the colleges
Located on the golden plains of Southeast Colorado, Lamar Community College is focused on the educational needs of Prowers, Baca, Kiowa, and Cheyenne Counties. Yet its unique programs, NJCAA/NIRA athletics, small class sizes, dedicated staff, innovative spirit, and idyllic setting also make it a destination college for students of all ages from across Colorado, the nation, and the world.
“We are ready to get to work with our community partners to solve this critical Southeast Colorado need and we are thrilled to offer students a new hands-on, relevant workforce experience that will benefit our communities greatly,” said Dr. Linda Lujan, president of Lamar Community College.
Founded in 1941, Otero Junior College is located on an attractive 40-acre campus on the southern edge of La Junta, Colorado. Otero Junior College is proud of its reputation as one of the best community colleges in the State of Colorado. Our students can be found working in many of today’s high demand careers, including fast-growing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers. OJC is an accredited Hispanic Serving Institution and provides cutting-edge education that offers various two-year degrees, transfer degrees in preparation for four-year bachelor degree programs, and workforce ready certificates.
“This program will be a game changer for Southeast Colorado,” said Dr. Tim Alvarez, president of Otero Junior College. “Quality affordable housing and addressing our region’s shortage of trades professionals are two major components to revitalizing our rural communities.”
Established in 1925, Trinidad State Junior College was the first community college in Colorado. With campuses in Trinidad and Alamosa, Colorado, we provide an affordable and accessible education to students in southern Colorado and beyond. Trinidad State offers unique academic programs in fields such as Aquaculture, Cosmetology, Nursing and Welding. We also have an Electrical Line Technician program as well as Art, Theatre and Machining in addition to traditional Arts and Sciences classes and a guaranteed transfer program through a partnership with four-year colleges and universities in Colorado. We are home to one of the first, and by most accounts, the premier Gunsmithing School in the United States.
“Trinidad State is thrilled to be a partner in COPERR,” said Dr. Rhonda Epper, president of Trinidad State Junior College. “This investment is just the boost we need to help train more construction workers while addressing blighted housing in Las Animas County and surrounding communities.”