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From Self-Help to Public Labor Camps: Exploring Ways to House California's Agricultural Workers


Although large growers today are reliant on hired workers more that ever before, the availability of housing for this workforce is far short of the present need. Nevertheless, housing initiatives have been advanced in the face of considerable adversity and this paper highlights two notable models. Born in 1976 out of a prolonged struggle for housing, the emergence of Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation as Ventura County's leading developer of affordable housing presents a compelling story of self-help. In Napa Valley, voters and vintners led the charge for affordable housing by voting to loosen restrictions to strict zoning ordinances and later creating special assessment district. While both housing initiatives should be regarded as models, the housing crisis faced by today's agricultural workers can only be alleviated through greater intervention by the state and the unions that represent the interests of agricultural workers.

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