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Affordable housing for farm workers coming to Santa Maria

Leticia Raya and her son live in a one bedroom apartment with three other people. She works as a farm worker picking lettuce, but, during the winter months there is no work for her.

“Now what are we to do, we have to figure out how to come up with the money for rent and for the bills we have,” says Raya.

Her sister-in-law is in a similar situation. When they heard affordable apartments for farm workers was coming to their neighborhood along S. Russell Avenue in Santa Maria, they came looking for information.

Right now, they say they’re paying too much for rent.

“This could be an opportunity here, hopefully they put housing like this and much more and people can come and apply,” says Raya.

Raya’s story is similar to many other farm worker families here in Santa Maria who often live with a lot of people in small places.

“This is home, this is what I wanted for a long time,” says Daniel Maldonado.

He came with from Mexico with his family in 2003.

They were living in his aunt’s living room, but, now they have an apartment, and it’s where he calls ‘home.’

He lives in a similar complex across the street from the new development.

“I remember when I was in Junior High they would take us to the fields even if we didn’t want to he would wake us up to expose us to that life because he didn’t want the same life he had,” he says.

The 34 new apartments will be built in an empty space just off of S. Blosser Road.

This is the third phase of three complexes that are specifically for farm workers.

“When we get closer to development we will take an interest list and then those people will go into a lottery where we will pick them off and qualify them income wise,” says John Fowler, President and CEO of People Self Help Housing.

Each family will also have to qualify based on their income, “there are income requirements so 30-60% median income, so in Santa Maria, that’s going to be a family of 4 up to $40,000 a year could qualify for this,” he says.

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