Farmworkers

California is the largest producer of agricultural goods in the country, and is one of the largest agricultural producing regions in the world.  Farmworkers play a key role in the operation and delivery of the state’s food system. Despite this, farmworkers face a number of economic disadvantages compared to California’s population as a whole.

Farmworkers tend to have low incomes; higher risk of living in poverty; and limited access to safe, healthy, and affordable housing choices.  Although it is difficult to determine the number of farmworkers (both migratory and permanent), estimates range from. 391,700 to 802,662 depending on the source.

Characteristics of the farmworker population have changed during the past two decades. There has been a decrease in the number of single farmworkers. In 1990, 41 percent of farmworkers lived alone. In 2012, 75 percent of farmworkers worked alongside or lived with family members.

In addition to policy work on farmworker housing, HCD administers the following programs:

HCD also operates California's Office of Migrant Services (OMS) in order to provide safe, stable, and affordable rental housing during the peak harvest season for migrant farmworkers and their families. In 2015-16, HCD administered funding that created or rehabilitated 1,880 migrant farmworker rental homes, which are operated during harvest season.

California's 2015-16 Budget Act provided $3.5 million in General Fund appropriation, which combined with $6.7 million of remaining Proposition 1C funds, allowed for $10.2 million in facility improvements in a number of the 24 existing OMS housing centers. HCD allocated these funds to rehabilitate wastewater systems at several of the these housing centers.
Office of Migrant Services – Water Conservation Grant: As part of the Drought State of Emergency declared January 17, 2014, Governor Brown charged the California Department of General Services (DGS) with "immediate implementation of water reduction plans for all state facilities." DGS made $513,155 available for OMS centers as part of an interagency agreement with HCD. HCD subsequently increased each OMS center's operating budget to fund water improvements such as water-efficient showerheads and toilets.

Learn more about the housing needs of farmworkers in California's Housing Future: Challenges and Opportunities.