California Lawmakers Propel AB 1439 to Tackle Farmworker Housing Crisis

AB 1439 Passes Policy Committees, Moves Forward to Assembly Appropriations Committee with No Opposition

SACRAMENTO, CA (May 4, 2023) – AB 1439 has passed both out of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation and Committee on Housing and Community Development with no opposition from State Assembly committee members thus far. AB 1439 is legislation by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and sponsored by La Cooperativa Campesina de California. AB 1439 seeks to incentivize the development of affordable low-income farmworker housing in rural areas by ensuring that farmworker housing developer projects receive equal treatment when it comes to tax credit points.

While CTCAC facilitates private investment in affordable rental housing for low-income Californians, their requirements unintentionally punish rural communities. CTCAC awards tax credit points based on amenities like public transportation, parks, and libraries. This biases against rural communities that cannot provide such amenities, exacerbating the farmworker housing crisis. AB 1439 would direct CTCAC to consider including additional tax credit points for farmworker projects.

“The lack of proper housing for farmworkers is a significant issue in California, with many farmworkers crammed into hotel rooms or small homes or forced to live in other vulnerable conditions in order to work in the fields. The recent tragedy in Half Moon Bay, where survivors were found living in shipping containers without insulation, highlights the dire need for change,” said Marco Lizarraga, Executive Director for La Cooperativa Campesina de California. “I am grateful to Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia for championing this bill and I applaud committee members for voting to continue moving AB 1439 through the legislative process, and keeping the hope alive of creating more opportunities for farmworker affordable housing.”

A study by the California Institute for Rural Studies found that an additional 45,560 units of farmworker housing were necessary to ease overcrowding in the Salinas and Pajaro valleys alone, in addition to the need for permanent, affordable, year-round family housing elsewhere throughout the state. The same study also revealed that many H-2A visa employers have resorted to contracting with motels to provide housing for their employees due to the lack of farmworker housing available. The shortage of proper housing for farmworkers is a significant issue that California has to address.

Agriculture is a major and significant sector in California’s economy. It is an industry that produced nearly $50 billion in revenue in 2018. California farming employs 7.3% of the state’s private sector labor force. Despite farmworkers’ huge economic contribution to the state, their living conditions are horrific. AB 1439 offers a glimmer of hope for farmworkers in California by addressing the housing crisis that they face. By providing incentives for the development of affordable farmworker housing in rural areas, the bill seeks to alleviate the dire housing situation faced by many farmworkers in the state.


About La Cooperativa Campesina de California

La Cooperativa Campesina de California, a 501 c (3) corporation, is the statewide association of agencies implementing and administering farm worker service programs. La Cooperativa’s five member agencies collectively operate more than 80 locally-engaged, bilingual offices throughout the State of California. Member agencies help farmworkers and their communities achieve lasting prosperity and self-sufficiency through education, training, placement, and other supportive services. The involved, collaborative model enables La Cooperativa to gain the trust of rural communities and makes it an essential vehicle for rural services delivery. In addition to securing and subcontracting funding to its members, La Cooperativa facilitates inter-agency cooperation and ensures compliance with federal and state grant guidelines.


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