May 2, 2022 - News

Colorado's Servicios de la Raza expands to Pueblo

A pedestrian crosses a street in downtown Pueblo in 2016. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One of Colorado's largest and longest-running Latino social services nonprofits is growing its footprint to reach some of the state's most underserved areas.

What's happening: Servicios de la Raza held a grand opening on Saturday for its new location in Pueblo.

  • The office will focus on offering post-incarceration and behavioral health services, but plans are already underway to open a food pantry and establish housing, workforce development and victim services programming, president and CEO Rudy Gonzales tells Axios Denver.

Why it matters: Pueblo County is a high-need area, with 41.6% of the population identifying as Hispanic and 17.6% of residents living in poverty, according to the latest Census figures.

What they're saying: "We intentionally chose Pueblo because it's characterized as a behavioral health care desert … and there's a need for more bilingual licensed therapy services," Gonzales says.

  • As is, Colorado's mental health centers are struggling to find professionals who speak English, so having Spanish-speaking Latino therapists is "unicorn rare," he adds.

The big picture: Latino communities in Colorado and nationwide face major barriers when it comes to accessing care and receiving quality treatment, despite significant increases in mental health and substance abuse issues.

  • The gaps in treatment services put Latino residents at higher risk for more severe and persistent health problems.

Zoom in: The Pueblo project is funded in part with $500,000 from Regional Accountable Entities, state organizations that help administer Medicaid services.

  • The funding will support two behavioral health case managers and two behavioral health therapists, all of whom are Pueblo natives, Gonzales says.
  • The therapists will also offer telehealth services to expand their reach — which Gonzales says will benefit the thousands of residents who are forced to regularly travel to Denver for treatment.

What's next: Servicios de la Raza is eyeing other locations for new offices along the Western Slope.

  • The ultimate goal is to be statewide, Gonzales says.

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