Each year during the planting and harvest season, agricultural workers and their families migrate from their homes to agricultural areas for employment. Because of the large number of families coming to these areas for such a short period of time, and the lack of quality housing available, the State of California and the Department of Labor developed the Office of Migrant Services (OMS). The OMS was established in 1965, to provide Migrant farmworker families with safe, decent and affordable seasonal rental housing and support services during the peak growing and harvest season, usually beginning in April and ending in November.
Before 1965, it was common for families to live in small cramped motel rooms often with other families, and those who were less fortunate, lived in their cars, or along orchards or streams in makeshift shacks – with no electricity, plumbing or safety.
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 box next page).
The OMS has two brand new centers in California and both of these centers have plenty of room for new families needing housing. These centers are located in Modoc County and Merced County.
Below is a series of questions and answers regarding information about the 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 earned income from agricultural work. The type of agricultural work changes from center to center so it is very important you contact the center where you would like to apply for housing. In addition, for at least three months prior to the time you will need housing, your family must live outside of a 50-mile radius from the center where you are applying for temporary housing. Other qualifications, such as immigration status, minimum or maximum income requirements and paperwork needed may vary with each center. You need to check with your nearest center for information.
When is housing available to families?
The Migrant Housing Centers are available for occupancy during the peak growing and harvest season, which is typically April through November, but this period can be extended based on the individual center’s needs.
What is the Length of Time a Family Can Stay in a Unit?
Families may rent the units for a sixmonth (180 day) period. These times can be extended, however, based on individual center and family needs. It is best to contact the closest center to you for the most updated information.
What Amount Will my Family Pay for Rent?
Rental rates for 2013 are based on the number of bedrooms in a unit as well as the condition the unit is in. Rates for units will range from $11.00 to $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. Each unit has a living room, dining area, kitchen and a full bathroom in each unit.
County Migrant Family Housing Centers
One center (Williams)
One center (Parlier)
Two centers (Arvin and Shafter)
One Center (Madera)
Four centers (Merced, Atwater-Livingston, Los Banos andPlanada)
One center (Newell)
One center (King City)
One center (Hollister)
Three centers (Harney Lane, Artesi II and Artesi III)
One center (Gilroy)
One center (Watsonville)
One center (Dixon)
Three centers (Patterson, Westley and Empire)
One center (Yuba)
Two centers (Davis and Madison)
Are Other Services, in Addition to Housing, Provided at the Centers?
For their resident families, the OMS provides access to the following services:
- Laundry centers n 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?
If you need more information about Temporary Migrant Housing, you can call Jaime Ochoa who is a Community Representative for the California Department of Housing and Community Development at (916) 327-0942. Unfortunately, there is no toll-free number to call, but Jaime will be able to answer your questions and direct you to the correct housing center in the area where you will be working. He is available Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm.