By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer
More and more farmworkers have arrived in California’s coastal areas in the last year but find too few houses for themselves and their families.
“Just this past year alone we’ve seen 1,700 guest workers come to the City of Santa Maria and because growers are required to provide housing for these workers, that’s created a real pressure for the industry to build housing or find housing for as many of these workers as possible,” Hazel Davalos, Community Organizing Director for the nonprofit C.A.U.S.E. told the television station KSBY.
The housing shortage is particularly acute for H-2a farmworkers, also known as guest or temporary workers. The seasonal nature of their work also makes it difficult for them to afford housing in an area that has very high rents.
“In our region, we have crops like strawberries which are difficult to mechanize so we need actual people picking,” Davalos explained. “We have very high housing costs being in coastal California so the labor shortage is even worse for us, specifically in our region, and so we think that explains the need for supplementing our labor force with H-2a workers.”