Home Is Where Migrant Health Starts: Migrant Farm Worker Housing Survey in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California

Daniela J. Vargas, University of San Francisco


In the United States, farm workers are faced with many issues in regards to housing such as overcrowding, lack of available affordable housing and the quality of housing. Low wages and low socioeconomic standing affects farm workers’ ability to obtain quality housing in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The purpose of this project was to obtain qualitative and quantitative data regarding the barriers and housing insecurities that affect migrant farm workers in California. This would be done through a farm worker housing survey, known as the Survey for Housing Improvement in Pajaro and Salinas (SHIPS), which will be conducted on 400 farm workers across the Salinas and Pajaro Valley in Summer and Fall of 2017 and could be replicated in other areas of California, other states or across the U.S. and to create sustainable models for farm worker housing. The SHIPS survey has the potential for several implications, including addressing the lack of quality and affordable housing, the need for additional research with longitudinal studies among various migrant populations, particularly indigenous populations, and obtaining support as well as local and state funding to use the SHIPS survey in other farm worker communities by their respective counties or states to better understand the current housing conditions that farm workers face across California and the United States. In 2018, the California Institute of Rural Studies will issue a white paper with the results of the SHIPS survey to describe the current housing conditions of farm workers in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.