Posted on: December 21, 2023
Half Moon Bay gets $2M for farmworker housing
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. – Half Moon Bay, a coastal community still grappling with the aftermath of a January mass shooting that claimed the lives of seven farmworkers, saw a significant stride forward in addressing housing challenges.
San Mateo County, home to a $100 million agricultural industry often overshadowed by the county’s tech sector, faced increased attention on farmworker housing conditions after the tragic shooting at a Half Moon Bay mushroom farm earlier this year.
On Tuesday, State Senator Josh Becker presented a ceremonial check for $2 million to Half Moon Bay from the recently approved state budget, specifically allocated for affordable farmworker housing.
“Agriculture is alive and well here on the coast,” Becker said. “But there are thousands of farmworkers here in our community. And what this tragedy revealed is that many were living in substandard conditions.”
The funds will be used for a specific project, demolishing an abandoned house on Kelly Avenue to make way for a 40-unit affordable housing complex.
Half Moon Bay Mayor Joaquin Jimenez said the coastside region overall will need about 1,000 affordable units for farmworkers. But this project, combined with another slated for construction soon, represents a solid start, providing around 100 units in the near term, Jimenez acknowledged the ongoing effort required to meet the housing demands of the local farmworker community.
“It is a big step,” Jimenez said. “Farming is our heritage and in order to maintain that we need farmworkers, and farmworkers need housing,” Jimenez said.
Judith Guerrero, executive director of resource advocacy group Coastside Hope, said the farmers involved in the January incident likely had little choice in their living conditions.
“They were living there because there was nothing else. It also depends on your definition of homelessness. That to me is a form of homelessness. But if it was between that and living out on the street which one are you going to take?” Guerrero said.
On a broader scale, the state legislature has approved $280 million statewide for the construction and rehabilitation of farmworker housing.
In Half Moon Bay, there is optimism that construction on the first farmworker housing project will start by the middle of the next year.
More on Mercy Housing’s project at 555 Kelly Avenue in Half Moon Bay, see VMWP’s web page.
Posted in: News