New York Governor to Improve Housing for Farmworkers

New York Governor Announces $25 Million Initiative to Improve Housing for Farmworkers

New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new $25 million package in grants and loans to improve housing conditions for farmworkers and to protect the health and safety of this critical workforce.  The Farmworker Safety Housing Grant Program will fund the rehabilitation and replacement of existing substandard farmworker housing. Grants are available from NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) through Federal Community Development Block Grant CARES Act funding, which provides resources to municipalities to improve housing and community facilities in response to COVID-19. In addition, the State oversees a $15 million Farmworker Housing Program, a revolving loan program designed to improve farmworker housing, through which farmers can apply for up to $200,000 per farm.

“The New Yorkers who work hard to keep our farms operating deserve housing that is safe, secure, and does not jeopardize their health or wellbeing,” Governor Hochul said.  “Many of these individuals often reside in congregate housing already in need of rehabilitation, and with the risks still posed by COVID-19, it’s critical we get this work underway as soon as possible.  Thanks to this funding, we can make that a reality and ensure these hardworking New Yorkers have a suitable place to call home.”

For the Farmworker Safety Housing Grant Program, municipalities may apply for grants of up to $1 million to support a farm or group of farms with 5-10 housing units in need of rehabilitation or replacement to address issues such as environmental hazards, outdated air filtration systems, and to provide essential personal protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitizer.

Grants must benefit low- to moderate-income individuals with incomes at or below 80% of the Area Median Income and work must be completed within 12-18 months of award.

Applications are available online: https://hcr.ny.gov/cdbg-cares

The Farmworker Safety Housing Grant Program complements the New York State Farmworker Housing Program, which was created more than 20 years ago to help farms provide safe and appropriate housing for their employees.  The program is administered by Farm Credit East in partnership with New York State Homes and Community Renewal and provides no-interest loans to finance improvement of existing housing or the construction or purchase of new housing for farmworkers. New York agricultural producers, including fruit, vegetable, greenhouse and nursery, equine, and dairy operations are eligible to apply.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “New York’s farmworkers have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep food on our tables.  We owe it to them to make sure their living conditions do not put them at additional risk for COVID-19 exposure.  I’ll keep fighting to protect farmworkers and keep New York’s agricultural community strong.”