County forms task force to improve conditions for farm workers in wake of mass shooting

$5M state grant to improve farmworker housing in wake of Half Moon Bay mass shooting

in Community

San Mateo County announced it will receive a $5 million state grant to support plans to expand farmworker housing, including units for those displaced by the mass shooting at two Half Moon Bay farms on Jan. 23.

The tragic murders of seven people by a disgruntled coworker exposed what elected officials called “deplorable” conditions in living quarters at the farms.

The $5 million state grant, formerly called The Joe Serna, Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant, will enable the County and Half Moon Bay to partner to purchase 28 manufactured housing units, 18 of which will be prioritized for farmworkers and families displaced by the shootings. The other 10 will be available to agricultural workers earning up to 80 percent of the area median income, with a focus on extremely low-income households and those displaced due to uninhabitable living conditions, according to the County.

The County is working with Half Moon Bay to identify and develop a potential site to house the manufactured units.

The grant bolsters recent County efforts to improve agricultural worker housing, including the formation of a taskforce and a $1 million pledge toward planning for farmworker housing.

Supervisor Ray Mueller, whose District 3 includes Half Moon Bay, thanked County staff and state officials for their efforts to provide the grant.

“This significant step towards more farmworker housing would also not have been possible without the advocacy from state Sen. Josh Becker and Assemblymember Marc Berman and the commitment of the city of Half Moon Bay, its city council and City Manager Matthew Chidester who have supported this work from the very beginning and I thank them,” Mueller said. “We are just getting started.”

Added Iliana Rodriguez, the assistant county executive who led the grant effort, “Our farm and ranch workers play an essential role in San Mateo County’s community and economy. We are happy that the work we have been doing to provide housing stability to farmworkers in our county is being bolstered by the state and the governor.”

Photo from the Half Moon Bay Victim Remembrance event at the site of a memorial to the mass shooting victims at Mac Dutra Plaza in Half Moon Bay (Image courtesy of San Mateo County).