The Housing for the Harvest program helps mitigate the spread of COVID-19 amongst farmworkers. This housing program was created by Governor Gavin Newsom in July to provide temporary housing for agriculture workers who have been exposed or infected with COVID-19.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Undersecretary Jenny Lester Moffit says since the agriculture industry was deemed essential, self-isolation has been an issue in many rural communities. “That was really due to a lot of what we have heard in the community, in listening sessions, and conversations in both agriculture and farmworker groups. That there is a need for isolation and quarantine housing for farmworkers who may not have a place to be able to isolate or quarantine in their home,” Lester Moffit said.
Living in a multi-family household can make it difficult to self-isolate and the Undersecretary says the Housing for the Harvest Program aims to help. The program is offered statewide with a focus on the Central Valley, Central Coast, and Coachella Valley regions. There are currently three counties participating including Fresno, San Joaquin, and Santa Barbara. According to CDFA, the program is a ran in collaboration with state and local entities. The state will book hotel rooms for eligible residents. Local governments will identify administrators to manage the program. Community organizations will provide other services such as meals, transportation, wellness checks, and in-language assistance.
“This is all about keeping families, keeping co-workers safe from spreading COVID both in housing, in the community, and of course at work as well. So that’s the importance of this, “Lester Moffit said. “For many people, especially for people in the farmworker, and the food processing worker communities they are living in multi-family housing. So there are several different families or multi-generational households and if someone is exposed or COVID positive, it’s great if they can self-isolate or quarantine in their home but many don’t have a dedicated room that they can do that. So this is a way that we can provide a dedicated room so we can prevent the spread within the communities.”
Listen to the full interview below.