A letter of support for senior farmworker housing at 555 Kelly

Posted on: April 24, 2024

Source: HMB Review

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, which continues to have a profound impact, we responded by making regular visits to farms and meeting with farmworkers. Recently, we spoke with six campesinos who shared with us the countless years they’ve dedicated to working the land, growing and harvesting the crops that nurture and sustain us.

Their weathered hands and their fatigued eyes bore witness to their labor, yet amidst their exhaustion, a glimmer of hope persisted. Despite their weariness, they smiled with resilience, their strength emanating from a deep-seated love for their work and families. One individual recounted four decades working in the fields, while others shared their experiences spanning between 25 and 35 years.

Even amidst shelter-in-place orders, they courageously continued their vital roles as first responders for our health and food security. Recently, our farmworker program team came across a worker who hadn’t seen a doctor in thirty years. Taking lunch to them we gave Señor Ric (pseudonym) something to drink and he gladly took it and looked us in the eye and said,

“Do you know that in 40 years, no one has ever given me so much as a drink?” Tears welled in his eyes and we tried to imagine all the hardships he must have endured. At 70 years old he still works in the fields, a testament to the enduring dedication shared by many, even those in their fifties and sixties. In Half Moon Bay, an aging farmworker population leaves behind a legacy of resilience and stewardship over our Coastside fields. As we recently celebrated the contributions of Cesar Chavez, our Coastside farmworkers stand as legends, embodying physical and emotional sacrifices for the greater good.

A couple of years ago, our senior farmworkers shared their need for housing, amidst the daily struggles of physical and emotional health, economic pressures, and the reluctance to leave behind their families. After all, the Coastside is their home, where they’ve raised their families. These narratives became the driving force behind the vision for 555 Kelly. This endeavor isn’t merely a construction project; it’s imbued with love, gratitude, hope, survival, and dignity.

Mercy Housing and ALAS have conducted and completed an inclusive process, engaging over 200 residents and community leaders. Leveraging this unique public site, we’re creating 40 new high-quality affordable homes and a vibrant Farmworker Resource Center, seamlessly integrating Coastside charm inspired by neighboring buildings.

The efforts of Half Moon Bay and San Mateo County in supporting our senior farmworkers have garnered praise from city, county and state leaders, our congresswoman, many, many organizations, and community figures alike.

When we look into the eyes of each Campesino, female and male, they are pillars of our community embodying an extraordinary work ethic and character ethic. They deserve a home that provides them with security and stability. The time to honor them has long since arrived, and we must take action now. We urge you to join us at 7 p.m. on April 23 at the Ted Adcock Community Center for the Planning Commission meeting. We will rally behind the city staff’s recommendations to approve these new homes for our senior farmworkers and a resource center for the entire farmworker community. Your support is vital in ensuring that we honor those who have contributed immensely to the fabric of our community.

Respectfully submitted,

ALAS, Ayudando Latinos A Soñar and Mercy Housing California

Posted in: News

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