VENTURA COUNTY (California) STAR

August 6, 2017

 

Fundraiser to support affordable housing for ag workers

 

By Tyler Hersko

 

Several of Ventura County’s leading advocates of affordable housing will gather for a public fundraising event focused on farmworker housing Sept. 21 at the Camarillo Ranch.

The event, titled Housing Our Agricultural Workforce and hosted by the Ventura County Housing Trust Fund, will include beer, wine, entertainment, a silent auction, a locally sourced dinner provided by Tim Kilcoyne, owner of Scratch Food Truck, and several guest speakers.

Funds raised at the event will be used to create new affordable housing throughout the county. Speakers will discuss the importance of supporting affordable housing for the county’s agricultural workers.

Fundraisers such as Housing Our Agricultural Workforce help support the county’s farming community, which is a crucial component of the region’s economy, according to Linda Braunschweiger, CEO of the Ventura County Housing Trust Fund.

“Agriculture is such a big economic benefit to our county, and if we cannot provide a labor force to work in our fields, we lose billions of dollars,” Braunschweiger said in an interview. “Residents need to understand that Ventura County’s beauty and economic future is hinged on its ag community. In order to sustain that, we need to have the labor force available, and they need good housing.”

Braunschweiger noted that the county’s agricultural workforce used to be primarily single males who would temporarily work in the region when the crops they specialized in were in season. Today, the majority of farmers bring their families and stay in the community and are often struggling to find affordable housing, Braunschweiger said.

The fundraiser’s speakers will discuss the issue of farmworker housing during the event and encourage attendees to consider the larger economic issues caused by the county’s dearth of affordable housing. Affordable housing is a major issue for a variety of local businesses, and supporting initiatives in favor of affordable housing is important for economic prosperity, according to keynote speaker Hector Lujan, CEO of Reiter Affiliated Cos., an Oxnard-based berry producer.

“We see it as one of the primary issues to our labor force, not only for field workers but for people in administration and all others areas,” Lujan said in an interview. “Finding affordable housing is key to sustaining our business. The more people are thinking about supporting affordable housing, the more people will be making their voices heard in the community and to local officials.”