The Salinas Valley is home to thousands of acres of produce. Last year, an estimated 200,000-plus workers tended the fields, helping generate $4.8 billion in revenues.
For some of these workers, both domestic and migrant workers, finding an affordable place to live can be a challenge. So much so that workers sometimes resort to housing options that are overcrowded, and in some cases illegal. Salinas city officials are aware of the problem and the city has become the largest financial contributor for a bi-county survey in Monterey County’s Salinas Valley and Santa Cruz County’s Pajaro Valley, meant to identify the actual housing needs in the region. Last year, Salinas incorporated farmworker housing into long-term city plans as part of state standards, but a citizens’ group pushed to go beyond state requirements and do a survey.
“Obviously there is a housing shortage, but we need more data to figure out for whom, and for how long and for how much,” Project Manager Jennifer Coile says.
The survey is in the process of selecting a consultant. So far the candidates are the California Institute of Rural Studies, Applied Survey Research and the Institute for Community Collaborative Studies at CSU Monterey Bay.
Salinas City Council is expected to choose a consultant in November, and the study should be underway shortly thereafter, Coile says.The city’s budget for the survey is $250,000. By next fall, results should be in, with site recommendations and financial options for housing.