After an announcement from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) the Housing for the Harvest Program has been expanded. Santa Barbara County will now be joining Fresno and San Joaquin counties in the program to provide temporary hotel housing for agricultural workers who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Through the program state officials are securing hotel rooms for workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization. Local governments are working with partners to provide additional services such as meals and wellness checks.
“Agricultural workers play an essential role in ensuring the continuity of our food supply, and they work on the front lines of the pandemic so that Californians can continue to put food on the table,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said in a press release. “Housing for the Harvest adds to the action the state is taking to safeguard workers, their families and public health.”
The Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health will be working with the local Family Service Agency in managing the program. “COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our farmworkers and food processors. We rely so much on these essential workers and the Housing for the Harvest Program will ensure our agricultural community continues to have access to basic needs while staying safe,” said Van Do-Reynoso, Director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.
Fresno County has been working with the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission in administering the program with additional funding support from the Central Valley Community Foundation. The coordination between the agencies will be critical for the program’s success through engaging in outreach to local communities.
The Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton has been working with the Community Foundation of San Joaquin to manage the Housing for the Harvest program in San Joaquin County. The Community Foundation of San Joaquin County has been working on an Emergency Assistance Grants Program along with a Community Outreach Partnership to help further the effort.
The goal is to ultimately make the Housing for the Harvest Program available statewide. California has received FEMA approval for the program and will be seeking reimbursement for 75 percent of the cost for the hotels.