HUD Assists in Identification of Migrant / Farmworker Needs

Thursday, March 31, 2005

In response to a request from community leaders, HUD's Office of Departmental Operations and Coordination funded the development of a survey to identify the gaps between available community services and the needs of migrants and farmworkers. They now have the data to move forward.

[Photo 1: Chris, Maria, and Karen]
Maria Matos, Chair of Latino Community Network of Manatee County Florida, Karen Jackson Sims, Director of HUD's Tampa Field Office, and Christine Talcott-Roberts, HUD/ODOC, Farmworker Specialist.

Karen Jackson Sims, Director of the HUD Tampa Office, recently emphasized to a large Manatee County audience "You need to decide as a community how to address every one of these components." Represented at the community forum were representatives of the Latino Community Network, housing authorities, local elected officials and over 200 citizens.

Manatee County ranks 8th among the State's 67 counties in agricultural sales, with an estimated annual impact of $250 million in crop production of vegetables, fruits, nuts and dairy products. Although some laborers do migrate as crops are ready to harvest, more than 18,000 farmworkers call Manatee County their home. Many are faced with a lack of decent, safe and affordable housing. Under the leadership of Manatee County Commissioner Patricia Glass, a local group working to address the issue saw hope in a HUD-funded survey to document these housing gaps.

[Photo 2: The Latino Committee]
The Latino Committee.

In 2003, with help from HUD's Office of Developmental Operations and Coordination (ODOC), a survey was developed to identify the gaps between available community services and the needs of the farmworkers. In total, 525 families were interviewed and the needs of migrant/farmworker populations were further refined. Needs included: decent, safe and affordable housing; affordable day care with flexible hours; adult education; parks, laundry facilities, healthcare; and treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse.

The HUD funded survey has been completed. It is now up to local government, farmworker advocates and service providers to continue working together. Thanks to ODOC and local HUD staff, they now have the data to write grants and create programs to help those who help feed the nation.


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