Latest Progress Reports

Rolling Star Gif

Annual Report


Funding Report

Benchmark Summary Report

Desert Communities Empowerment Zone

Lead Entity: Riverside County Economic Development Agency


State: California
Counties (Census Tracts): Riverside (456.01, 456.02, 458, 459)
Community Population: 23,248
Poverty Rate: 31.4%
Net Land Area:744 square miles
Maps: Local


Community Overview

The proposed Desert Communities Empowerment Zone is comprised of four contiguous Census Tracts within the jurisdiction of Riverside County. The Empowerment Zone boundary is bordered on the north by the Riverside-San Bernardino County line; on the east by the Colorado River; on the south by the Riverside-Imperial County line, including the Salton Sea; and on the west by the cities of Coachella, Indio, La Quinta, and Desert Hot Springs. The Zone includes four incorporated cities, five Indian Reservations, and the three Colonia communities of Ripley, Mesa Verde, and Oasis. The area generally can be described as "desert-rural."

Communities and residents within the Zone are affected by pervasive rates of poverty and general distress evidenced by unemployment and under-employment, substandard housing, low educational attainment and high rates of crime. The area has inadequate health care and endures high levels of chronic disease. There is a lack of adequate infrastructure in terms of water, wastewater facilities, streets, public transportation, and community facilities.

Strategic Plan Highlights

With the implementation of its strategic plan, the Desert Communities seek to achieve a balance in economic and community development.


Partnerships include participation by Federal, state, and local governments, nonprofits, area businesses, public schools, and the community college.


The Desert Communities Empowerment Zone has identified a range of organizations at the federal, state and local level where it intends to seek potential funding and technical assistance. The Plan also identifies other sources of funding and support from local communities and organizations in terms of in-kind contributions.

Community Involvement

Outreach to the residents in the designated areas consisted of press releases, articles in local newspapers, surveys, a series of public meetings, and creation of special topical subcommittees. The overall plan captures all the local and small communities in the area (including three Native American tribes). There was a concerted effort to include all residents in the area in terms of both low-income and minority status. Efforts were made to present information at meetings and in local newspapers both in English and in Spanish, so that residents of the area were fully informed about the planning process, and were aware that their views were considered to be important in developing the community assessment and the plan. Numerous local organizations, local, county, and state agencies as well as self-help groups provided letters of support for the designation as an empowerment zone.

Contact:Jeffrey A. Hays
Address:DACE/Rancho Housing Alliance, Inc.
53-990 Enterprise Way, Suite 1
Coachella, CA 92236
Telephone:760/391-5050, ext. 222




Rural EZ/EC Home Page......Feedback