At the beginning of April of each year, a large amount of agricultural workers and their families begin to migrate from their permanent homes to farming areas across the state in search of employment. Some of these families will be traveling great distances, so along with employment, they will also need a temporary place to call home for themselves and their families until the farming season comes to a close, which usually happens in November.
Because there is such a large number of families who are traveling to these areas for the eight or so months of agricultural work, and due to the lack of quality housing that’s available, the State of California Department of Labor established the Office of Migrant Services (OMS) in 1965.The OMS was established to provide Migrant farmworker families with safe and affordable seasonal rental housing, and other support services, during the peak growing and harvest season of each year.
Before the OMS was established, common practice was for families to live in small, cramped motel rooms, often with other families, while some less fortunate families would live out of their cars or along streams in makeshift shacks with no electricity, plumbing or the safety that only a house can offer. To serve the needs of seasonal farm working families living in California, the OMS works with local housing authorities and counties to provide migrant housing centers located throughout the state, we’ve listed them here for you by county:
Temporary Migrant Family Housing Centers and the Office of Migrant Services
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Below is a series of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the OMS and Migrant Family Housing Centers:
What qualifies my family to receive housing services?
To qualify for seasonal housing, an applicant must collect at least 50 percent of their earned income from agricultural work. The type of agricultural work needed to qualify changes from center to center, so it is very important that you contact the individual center where you would like to live. 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. Other qualifications, such as immigration status and minimum or maximum income requirements,vary with each center. Please check with your nearest center for this information.
When does temporary housing become 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 six month(180 day) period. These time scan 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 2014 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 $12.50per 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.
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
- Day Care for Children 2-5 years of age
- Summer School for children 6-15years of age
- Education tutoring and after school activities
- Medical and nutritional services
- 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 information about Temporary Migrant Housing, you can call Maria Montanez, a Community Representative for the California Department of Housing and Community Development at (916)263-1606. Unfortunately, there is no toll free number to call, but Maria will be able to answer your questions and direct you to the correct housing center in the area where you will be working. She is available Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm