VALLEJO (California) TIMES-HERALD

October 5, 2017

 

Gov. Brown signs bill giving Napa permanent state funding for farmworker housing

 

NAPA --- A bill providing permanent, annual funding to support Napa County’s three farmworker housing centers was signed into law on Wednesday, Napa County officials announced.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 317 into law, so, starting in the next budget cycle, the Napa County Housing Authority will receive $250,000 in matching dollars each year.

The legislation was sponsored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters).

“The success of Napa County’s wine industry begins at the first touch of the grapes by farmworkers, who support the agricultural industry and economy of our community,” said Belia Ramos, Chair of the Napa County Board of Supervisors. “We appreciate the State recognizing Napa County’s efforts and supporting our agricultural workforce.”

The county farmworker housing program provides seasonal affordable housing for 180 migrant workers in three centers. Residents pay $23 per day for three meals, literacy, and other training programs. Lodgers pays $14 per day, with the county subsidizing $9 of that, officials said. The increased funding creates sustainability of these programs at a low cost to center residents, they said.

“Every year, after the harvest is over, we have about 15 center residents who become homeless,” River Ranch manager Angel Calderon said. “To me, this is truly a public health issue. This money will help keep our three centers open and continue providing housing and services to this population.”

Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza added, “Because of the relentless advocacy and leadership of Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, State Sen. Bill Dodd, the Napa Valley Vintners, and our wine industry partners, we can continue to provide safe, sustainable and affordable seasonal housing for Napa County farmworkers.”

In 2001, the State authorized Napa County to form a County Service Area to raise funds for farmworker housing, which generates about $500,000 annually, officials said. The industry also taxes itself to provide farmworker housing that benefits the community and surrounding counties. This is the third funding boost the farmworker housing center program has received this year — another $250,000 was included in the State budget, and vineyard owners voted to raise their self-assessment to increase funding. Rising costs and inflation created a funding gap that threatened the centers’ existence.

Napa County is California’s only provider of farmworker housing fully funded by occupant rent and the industry in partnership with local housing funds, officials said.