While on a recent visit to Oregon, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez visited the Canyon East farm worker housing complex currently under construction in Madras. The USDA-supported facility is scheduled for completion in August, with families moving in shortly thereafter. Vasquez was joined by Oregon Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker.
The community of Madras in Central Oregon is surrounded by numerous farming and ranching operations that provide fresh foods and products for regional markets. Many of these operations, including irrigated seed crops, potatoes and mint as well as the numerous hay and livestock operations, can be labor intensive, and rely on an infusion of farm workers. Yet, housing options in the Madras area have been limited for farm workers and their families, despite the integral and valued role they play in local agriculture as well as the overall community.
To address the issue, a partnership of local officials, state agencies, non-profits, advocacy groups, farmers and ranchers began roughly six years ago to look for a way to build new, affordable multi-family community in the area. Despite the number of proactive, invested partners, the group could not secure adequate funding for the project. Last year, however, Rural Development was able to access funds in addition to regular program resources through the USDA Multi-Family Housing Program to assist the effort. In addition, Rural Development will provide rental assistance to help low income families.
The Canyon East complex will offer 24 units of housing for farm workers and their families. The design includes two, three and four bedroom units, along with a playground, basketball court and community building featuring meeting space, laundry facility and on-site management offices.
Thanks to this partnership effort of the Central Oregon Regional Housing Authority (Housing Works), Community And Shelter Assistance Corporation of Oregon (CASA), Oregon Housing and Community Services, the City of Madras and numerous local champions, USDA Rural Development is helping farm worker families access quality housing and live in an environment where they can thrive.
To learn more about how USDA assists in the effort to provide safe, sanitary housing to America’s farm workers, click here.