Information provided by the Office of Congressman Jimmy Panetta.
In a Sept. 25 press release, the office of Congressman Jimmy Panetta said he has sent a letter to House leadership requesting a $1 million investment in the Department of Labor (DOL) Farmworker Housing Program to improve housing conditions for farmworkers in the next federal COVID-19 relief package. Recent reports detail that farmworkers in California are more prone to contracting COVID-19. The high prevalence of the disease has been intensified by crowded living conditions within farmworker households.
“COVID-19 continues to severely impact the health and housing issues of farmworkers on the Central Coast. I’m constantly reminding many of my congressional colleagues that farmworkers are not just invaluable when it comes to our agricultural productivity, but also some are very vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their living conditions,” Panetta said. “That’s why I’m consistently pushing House leadership to take those issues into account and fund farmworker housing programs in the next pandemic relief package. Such funding would provide more resources for outreach, information, and housing assistance to farmworkers so that they can stay healthy, safe, and continue to play an essential role in our nation’s food security.”
The release states the DOL Farmworker Housing Program is extremely underfunded. According to the 2016 Legal Services Corporation Agricultural Worker Population Estimate, there are 633,978 agricultural workers in California, representing 21.83% of the nationwide farmworker population and 32.5% of the nation’s farmworkers living in poverty. Funding to farmworker organizations based in California fell from $1.34 million in the previous four-year cycle to $859,000 in grants made last month; a reduction of over 40%.
Read Congressman Panetta’s letter here.