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Assemblymember Arambula Introduces AB 2240 to Address Farmworker Housing Needs; Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas is the Principal Coauthor

For immediate release:
  • Felicia Matlosz
  • 559-304-9286

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) has introduced AB 2240, a farmworker housing bill, to ensure that farmworkers and their families are not forced to leave housing centers because of outdated requirements that disrupt their lives and children’s education. Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) is the principal co-author.

AB 2240 seeks to change two key problems. First, the bill would authorize the California Department of Housing and Community Development to keep its 24 migratory farmworker housing centers open year-round, rather than operate only a few months each year. These complexes house thousands of farmworkers and their families, and the closures force these families to lose affordable housing, scrambling to find places to live. One of these housing centers is in Parlier, which is in the 31st Assembly District.

Second, the bill eliminates a requirement that farmworkers and their families must live outside a 50-mile radius of their centers for at least three months in order to be eligible for the centers. This requirement has adversely impacted the continuity of the education of their children, who have had to move from school to school, or, in some cases, missed school completely for months at a time.

Assemblymember Arambula said that he appreciates the support of Speaker Rivas for this bill and said this of the legislation: “Farmworkers are the backbone of our agricultural industry. This was especially so during the pandemic when they worked to put food on our tables while suffering disproportionately from the COVID virus. AB 2240 will ensure that current requirements won’t continue to cause families unnecessary stress and instability. We should keep housing facilities open year-round, especially because the state has a critical affordable housing shortage.”

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas said: “We must keep these homes accessible year-round so that farmworkers can access safe and affordable places to live. This legislation also allows families to remain connected to their communities, and it ensures children get to stay at their local schools. I thank Dr. Arambula for leading on this issue and delivering real solutions for our migrant farmworkers.”

AB 2240 also has the support of a coalition of advocate organizations. They include the Food Empowerment Project; the Center on Race, Immigration, and Social Justice; the Center for Farmworker Families; and the Human Agenda.

Young people impacted by the current situation involving the farmworker housing centers and 50-mile radius expressed hope that it can be changed.

Luis, a 24-year-old who has lived in the centers all his life, said: "I think year-round housing will benefit all students from K-12 with consistent education, specifically high school students that are planning to join honors or AP classes. Due to the time that we miss while in Mexico, it makes it hard to catch up with regular classes. It’s a big discouragement for students that are attempting to apply for a UC or a CSU."

A female high school junior, who currently lives in the centers, said: "I personally think the camps should stay open all year because there's a lot of us students including myself that struggle a lot with education. We basically only get nine months of education each year, and, as an upcoming senior that’s struggling right now, it's sad to know that I probably won't be able to graduate with my class because of how much school I miss. Regarding the families in general, most of us have nowhere to go when the camps close. Some of us even stay living in the streets in our cars just for the students to be able to finish their finals. The camps make not only a big impact in my life, but also hundreds of others."