By: Melanie Forti, Program Director
Everyone have dreams; dreams to become a professional, buy properties, or just simply live a life worry-free. Whatever the dream, it is usually encompasses accomplishing something bigger than what we are, have, or do. However, sometimes those dreams stay, solely, as dreams.
Every year U.S. migrant farmworkers travel from states to states to harvest our nation’s crops in hopes to earn enough money to sustain their family, and reach the “american dream” once they return back home. Most migrant workers are foreign-born and on average are married, men between ages of 31-38. Usually they leave their families behind and live in migrant housing sometimes provided by employers for free, but often at a cost even if it is not monetary.
Due to the nature of their work, farmworkers stay at migrant camps where they should find the basics to live, such as a bed, shower, kitchen, potable water, and more. However, once you learn what the conditions of many migrant camps are, you can’t feel the urge to want to do something to improve it.
Many migrant camps look like abandon houses due to their serious structural problems, plumbing issues, decayed walls and floors with holes which allow critter infestation that can result in other health issues such as liver and kidney damage, asthma, and allergic reactions. Migrant housings or units are usually overcrowded and shared with non-family members.
The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) stated that “farmworkers are among the worst-housed groups in the United States.” After HAC inspected migrant housings on the East Coast, they found that 38 percent of the houses are severely inadequate or unfit for human occupancy.
Among studies of farmworker housing, California Agricultural Worker Health Survey (CAWHS) reported that migrant housings were crowded or extremely crowded conditions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’
|Current Population Survey (CPS) and the DOL’s National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) reported that the majority of farmworkers (55%) live in some type of single family dwelling or unit.|
In addition to the common threats that farmworkers face such as pesticide exposure and viral breakouts, they also face housing uncertainty that may lead to physical and mental issues. The lack of privacy, overcrowded space can create stress which can lead to anxiety and depression. Although many growers are complying with the standards, sometimes it’s just not enough. Every human being should have the right to live in a safe environment, in a healthy place, in a happy state of mind.