Riverside County Creates Housing Program, Financial Assistance to Protect Essential Farmworkers During Pandemic

Taylor Martinez

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a new program to protect farmworkers and their families during the pandemic.

Riverside County will provide temporary housing options, including hotel and motel rooms, for farmworkers who are either COVID-19 positive or exposed to have safe and suitable places to stay in if they are unable to self-isolate at home.

The county will also provide a $2,000 stipend to cover lost work hours and will partner with nonprofit organization TODEC Legal Center to provide comprehensive services.

Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and Supervisor Chuck Washington proposed the program to provide resources to help the farmworker community and critical workers involved in food production across the county.

“Our farmworkers are essential, and have continued working hard through this time to make sure the food supply is there for all of us,” said Supervisor Perez. “The pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on farmworkers throughout the State of California and in Riverside County. This is a much-needed program, and perhaps the first of its kind to provide a component for economic stability so farmworkers not only have housing so they can safely quarantine, but also have necessary support to sustain their families when they are losing work.”

The Harvest Housing Program is Riverside County’s implementation of the state’s Housing for the Harvest program. The Riverside County program will include state-funded hotel/motel rooms for isolation/quarantine, expanded housing options including the use of previously allocated state travel trailers, and the establishment of a financial assistance fund to cover lost wages due to COVID‑19 illness or quarantine.

Riverside County will partner with TODEC Legal Center to coordinate outreach, housing services, wellness checks and ancillary supportive services.

“As we face a pivotal time in history, we’re so proud of our County of Riverside for listening to the grassroots and stepping up to protect California’s most valuable asset, our farmworkers,” stated Luz Gallegos, Community Programs Director for TODEC Legal Center. “We look forward to this partnership, as we work together to bring relief to our lifelong essential workers ‘Nuestros Campesinos’.”

The county anticipates the program will begin providing services within the next week.

“TODEC is a great organization that is very well known throughout the County of Riverside, and I appreciate them being the facilitator for this program. I want to thank county staff for initiating this program in Riverside County, as well as nonprofits and grassroots organizations that are tirelessly working on behalf of our farmworkers,” Perez said.

Riverside County, through its Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and Emergency Management Department, has distributed over 200,000 masks to farmworkers. The county has aired media spots on Spanish language radio and TV stations with simple steps to stay safe, and is working on further efforts on outreach, testing, and contact tracing in the agriculture community.

This article is from Riverside County officials

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