Dear Friends and Supporters of the Washington Farmworker Housing Trust:
Our hearts are very heavy as we announce that the WA Farmworker Housing Trust is ceasing operations. As individuals and organizations who are partners of the Trust, we remain committed to building a more sustainable agricultural community by addressing the full spectrum of housing and related needs of farmworkers. We are proud of our work bringing together diverse constituencies, including agricultural employers and labor advocates, to build vibrant communities that celebrate all aspects of our agricultural economy, especially the hard working people who plant, prune, cultivate, and harvest our crops.
Unfortunately, the recession has prevented us from securing sustainable funding sufficient for the level of effort our mission requires. Both private and public investments in affordable housing for lower income persons and families have declined precipitously. Philanthropy for rural issues and social justice has been particularly hard hit. We worked hard to diversify the Trust’s revenue sources and raise venture capital for innovative approaches to achieving our mission, but financial winter set in before we could harvest those efforts.
We are proud of what we accomplished in just eight short years. Simply achieving an accord between labor advocates and growers to support the full spectrum of farmworker housing needs is historic. That accord was crucial to the legislature significantly increasing capital budget appropriations for farmworker housing, as well as funding and expanding the On-Farm Housing Loan Program. Our Community Capacity Program supported nearly every community-based farmworker housing provider in the state. We have strong local advisory councils in Yakima and Skagit Counties that are implementing specific, realizable action plans. We also secured legislation prohibiting local jurisdictions from discriminating against affordable housing for farmworkers and other low income persons in land-use actions.
All of this was only possible through your support, for which we cannot thank you enough. Please continue doing everything you can to support organizations that are improving housing conditions for farmworkers and their families. Make sure your local, state, and federal elected officials understand that quality affordable housing for working people is essential to a strong economy and vibrant communities.
The WA Farmworker Housing Trust’s research, including our statewide survey of 3,000 farmworkers is available from the Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing at www.orfh.org.
The Board of Directors and Staff of the WA Farmworker Housing Trust