Every year during the agricultural season, migrant workers must secure temporary and affordable housing. As a result of a seasonal demand for temporary housing, there is too often a shortfall in suitable living arrangements. It is vital that migrant workers are aware of public housing programs, as well as their housing rights.
The State of California and the Department of Labor runs the Office of Migrant Services (OMS), which seeks to provide safe, decent and affordable seasonal rental housing and offer additional services. The objective of the OMS is to prevent migrant families from living in small unlivable conditions. To serve the housing needs of seasonal farm working families living in California, the OMS works with local housing authorities and counties to provide migrant centers located throughout California (See Appendix 1).
Provided below are answers to commonly asked questions about OMS and Migrant Family Housing Centers.
What Does my Family Need to Qualify for Housing?
To qualify for seasonal housing an applicant must collect at least 50% of their household’s combined earned income from agricultural work. As defined by the OMS, agricultural work encompasses farm, ranch or orchard, or the processing of agricultural products. In addition there must be more than one person in the applicant’s household, and additional members within the household must be the applicant’s immediate family. For at least three months prior to the time an applicant and their family needs housing they must reside outside of a 50-mile radius from the center they are applying to. It is vital to further check with the center nearest to you, since application requirements may vary center-to-center (See Appendix 1).
When is housing available to families?
The Migrant Housing Centers are available for occupancy during the peak growing and harvest season, which is typically late April through October and November, but pre-season extension dates may occur based on individual center’s needs.
What is the Length of Time a Family Can Stay in a Unit?
Families may rent a unit for a six-month (180 day) period. Rental periods can be extended, however, an extension is based on family needs, the
individual center, and the employer. For accurate information it is best to contact the center for which you are applying to.
What Amount Will my Family Pay for Rent?
Daily rental rates vary by the number of bedrooms in a unit. 2014 occupancy season rates ranged from $10.00 to 12.50 per day. In 2014, a two bedroom unit typically rented for $11.50 per day, a three bedroom unit for $12.00 per day, and a four bedroom unit for $12.50 per day.
Tell me More About the Units
Each center’s units will vary, but an average size unit is 600-850 square feet. Only families qualify for temporary housing, and because of this, there are two, three and four bedroom options available at the centers. Units do not exceed four bedrooms. Each unit has a living room, dining area, kitchen and a full bathroom.
Are Other Services, in Addition to Housing, Provided at the Centers?
OMS resident families are provided access to the following services:
- Laundry centers
- Day Care for Children 2-5 years of age
- Summer School for children 6-15 years of age
- Education tutoring and after school activities
- Medical and nutritional services n Counseling and other referral services, such as help with alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, and referrals to local food banks.
In addition to these services, some centers also have playgrounds for children, baseball diamonds, soccer fields and basketball courts.
What Number do I Call for More Information About the Migrant Family Housing Centers?
For more information about Temporary Migrant Housing, you can contact the OMS Program Manager Rosemary Avila at (916) 263-1186. For general inquiries you can contact (916) 263-2771 or email OMSprogram@hcd.ca.gov.