Affordable Farmworker Housing: Impacts on the General Community

Erika Valencia

Download PDF

This project examines NIMBY opposition (Not In My Back Yard) to affordable farmworker housing with the aim of understanding how presuppositions surrounding such housing developments are constructed. My research focuses on Bello Rio (an affordable farmworker housing project in East Wenatchee) and the impacts it had on the surrounding community. In doing this I aimed to answer my main question: what are the benefits that result from affordable farmworker housing that the general community enjoys and how do you communicate these benefits to the community at large?

Methods: To answer my question I began by looking at previous research regarding the impacts of farmworker housing developments, focusing on the impacts on the lives of the tenants themselves but also on the few scholars who spoke of the impacts this type of housing has on the general community. Keeping these findings in mind, I sought out first hand information regarding my case study, Bello Rio, through interviews with affordable farmworker housing advocates, farmworker housing opponents, and farmworkers and their children. I also analyzed twenty-nine letters that were written in support and opposition of the Bello Rio development during the initial construction stages. To get a better understanding of the receiving community’s view regarding affordable farmworker housing, I also conducted a survey at the Chamber of Commerce in East Wenatchee, Washington.

Findings: Contrary to common presuppositions, I found that affordable housing for farmworkers brings many benefits to the community at large, not just the farmworkers. However, these benefits are not being communicated and the common negative presumptions around affordable farmworker housing continue to reproduce. According to my findings, if housing advocates actively communicated these benefits, the community at large would be less hostile and more supportive of these developments, making it easier to meet the farmworker housing need in the state of Washington of 39,401 units.

Recommendations: Getting the neighboring community involved at the beginning stages is highly recommended. Doing this will give the neighbors a chance to get involved and have a say on what is going on around them instead of feeling like a farmworker housing developments is simply being imposed in that area. This involvement at an early state will in turn keep all channels open for dialogue creating the perfect opportunity to communicate the benefits of farmworker housing and gain support from the wider community.

Community Partners: Rosalinda Mendoza and Brien Thane. Both work for the Washington State Farmworker Housing Trust in Seattle.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

Comments are closed.