The Countywide Farmworker Housing Study and Action Plan implements Program E of the County of Ventura’s 2021-2029 Housing Element (Chapter 3 of the General Plan):
“The County, working with advocacy groups, agricultural organizations and Ventura County cities, will: (1) take on a coordinating role to seek funding for, and to implement, a countywide survey of farmworkers, employers, and housing providers to further define housing conditions, needs and barriers to farmworker housing; and, (2) utilize the survey results to develop targeted programs and strategies to address the identified housing needs of farmworkers and to support agricultural businesses with a stable and healthy workforce.
In implementing this program, the County shall strive to affirmatively further fair housing by providing housing opportunities (farmworker units or complexes) under the County’s RHNA obligation and for both County and cities to provide services for the farmworker population throughout the County.”
Countywide farmworker housing studies were last completed in 2002 - the County of Ventura Farm Worker Housing Study; and Farm Worker Housing: A Crisis Calling for Community Action, by the Ventura County Ag Futures Alliance. Since then, the nature of the farm labor force, and the type of housing required by the farmworkers has changed, and there is limited data available representative of the current trends. It is imperative that updated information regarding farmworkers is available in order to develop the right kind of housing for them.
Ventura County Farmworkers
As identified in the Background Report of the Housing Element (Chapter 5 - Housing of the County of Ventura’s 2040 General Plan), the estimated number of farmworkers in Ventura County ranges from 18,000 to 36,500 persons, depending on the data source.
The farmworker workforce includes permanent and seasonal/temporary workers, as well as single farmworkers, and those with families. Housing currently designated for farmworkers includes units provided on the agricultural land to employees, labor camps overseen by HCD, and other units built and managed by affordable housing developers.
The Ventura County Farmworker Housing Study and Action Plan is intended to gain accurate understanding of the number of farmworkers in the County, along with updated farm labor trends affecting agricultural workforce needs. In addition to providing stakeholders and decisionmakers with the tools necessary to identify opportunities and constraints to producing additional farmworker housing, the study seeks to give a voice to the County’s farmworkers, specifically related to local housing needs for this vulnerable, yet essential population.
This information can then be utilized by County and City governments, affordable housing providers and organizations, farmworker advocate organizations, and other public and private sectors including healthcare, transportation, and education, to focus on meeting verified farmworker needs, including the development of innovative models for housing provision and identifying gaps in social services.