PathStone makes great strides towards providing safe housing to farmworkers

New York State On Farm Farmworker Housing

In January, PathStone’s Farmworker Housing Developer in New York, Emily Hamilton, started researching the need for on farm farmworker housing rehabilitation in Niagara, Orleans, and Wayne Counties. These three counties along the shores of Lake Ontario have many apple orchards, and according to the USDA, approximately 9000 farmworkers are working in these counties during the harvest season. Through County Planning Departments, County Farm Bureaus, Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, and the New York State Horticultural Society, Emily distributed farmworker housing rehabilitation surveys in all three counties.

The greatest feedback from the survey came from Wayne County.  Emily will use the information garnered from the survey to help the county apply for grand funds this summer. The grant, if received by Wayne County, will pay for 60% of the costs of rehabilitation of the farmworker housing units; the farm will bear the responsibility of the remaining costs of housing rehabilitation.

Within the last 12 years, counties in the Hudson Valley successfully received similar funding for farmworker housing rehabilitation. If Wayne County receives this funding, it will set a precedent for Western New York.  These grant funds will not only help the farmer with their bottom line and help them to retain their employees, but it will help to improve the living conditions for many farmworkers during apple harvest season.

Migrant Farmworker Housing in Indiana

PathStone’s office in Indiana is also exploring new ways to increase quality migrant farmworker housing units. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority recently announced the draft of its 2012 Consolidated Plan for Funding. A new objective for 2012 is Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for the support of construction and rehab of migrant farmworker housing units. The outcome/goal for 2012 is 40 beds.

To this end, PathStone’s office in Indiana is currently organizing a “comment campaign” to encourage growers, migrant service providers, and others to attend one of the public hearings, or to submit written comments in support of funding for migrant farmworker housing.The new objective will hopefully open the door for a migrant housing co-op being considered by growers in the Vincennes area of Knox County. The three growers interested in the housing co-op collectively employ more than 300 migrant workers at their growing operations.  PathStone is currently meeting with the growers and a local commercial contractor to discuss farmworker housing designs.

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