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Farmworkers struggling with housing to receive assistance from the state



GILROY -- This year, officials started paying more attention to the deplorable living conditions some Bay Area farmworkers face. KPIX met a family in Gilroy that is just one of many who would benefit from new help being provided by the state.

It's a journey that started 35 years ago for Raul Vega. Every day he is in the fields making sure that strawberries can start their trip from the field to Bay Area grocery stores.

But for Vega, farming has been more than just a job. It has been a way of life.

"I had planted two acres of strawberries this year, but the floods affected us a lot because it's very delayed," he said.

And with a mortgage payment of more than $3,000 a month, Raul can't afford that delay. He managed to buy a house after years of struggle and effort.

Now he additionally works at a factory job at night to keep his American Dream alive for himself and his family.

"It's been very difficult for us lately because of all that happened with the flooding and my wife is sick. She had surgery and she has another one, this month or the other," said Vega.

Belinda Arriaga is the director of ALAS , a nonprofit organization focused on helping farmworkers.

"Over all these years, we continue to hear the difficult fight of farmworkers," explained Arriaga. "The need to have better housing, better pay, better access to medical, increase human rights."

But it took a tragedy to bring broader attention to that effort. The mass shooting that unfolded at two farms in Half Moon Bay last January exposed the deplorable living conditions countless farmworkers face.

"We're grateful, because Governor Newsom came to Half Moon Bay right after the tragedy with the mass shooting and we spoke to him about the conditions," said Arriaga. "He saw the images. He saw the photos. He heard the community."

Governor Newsom's office has announced more than $825 million to build affordable housing, including for farmworkers. 

About 58 communities across the state will receive funding to build nearly 10 thousand homes as part of a new funding approval process that eliminates the need of a developer to submit multiple applications. 

This includes roughly $700 million in funds for multifamily development and $125 million for infill development. 

It's all part of the statewide housing plan focused on building at least 1 million affordable homes by 2030.

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