RIVERSIDE COUNTY – As farmworker communities in the eastern Coachella Valley face increased levels of COVID-19 exposure and surging new cases, Riverside County is dedicating more funds to its Riverside County Housing for the Harvest program, which provides housing and financial support for farmworkers to safely isolate and recover.
The county program, which was launched in fall with $1 million, has received a boost of $750,000 to assist farmworkers on a waiting list. The Riverside County Executive Office approved an allocation of $500,000 towards the program today, on top of an emergency allocation of $250,000 that was recently authorized.
Supervisor V. Manuel Perez sought the increased funding to assist newly diagnosed individuals who are currently under quarantine and on a waiting list for the county program, after the original $1 million to fund the program had been exhausted.
“I appreciate the emergency allocations to this program, allowing our program partner TODEC Legal Center to continue food delivery to quarantined households, provide gas gift cards so families can get to the doctor and, most importantly, provide financial assistance to the individuals who so desperately need it,” said Supervisor Perez. “We launched this program in the fall as there is not much of a safety net for farmworkers, and especially immigrants. Tragically, since fall, the severity of this pandemic has not subsided and farmworkers are in need of additional assistance.”
Over the summer, following efforts announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom in California’s Central Valley, Supervisor Perez led the effort to get a program up and running in Riverside County to help farmworkers and their families stay safe during the pandemic.
Launched in September, the Riverside County Housing for the Harvest program is a unique program to protect the farmworker community and workers involved in food production across the county. It provides temporary housing for farmworkers to safely quarantine apart from other family members. The comprehensive program includes meals, transportation, wellness checks and a $2,000 stipend to cover lost wages, that provides necessary support for farmworkers to sustain their families when they are losing work.
The program provides financial stability that aims to prevent COVID-positive or COVID exposed farmworkers from going to work and passing the virus to others.
The program is administered by the nonprofit TODEC Legal Center and overseen by Riverside County housing agency staff. TODEC Legal Center provides assistance over the telephone in English, Spanish and Purépecha to reach out and serve the Coachella Valley’s Purépechan community.
The $500,000 authorized today is from unspent funds Riverside County received through the federal CARES Act. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors will assess opportunities for further funding next month.
Supervisor V. Manuel Perez is the chair of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, representing the eastern two-thirds of Riverside County as the Fourth District Supervisor. Stretching from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, south to the Salton Sea and east to Blythe and the Colorado River, the Fourth District is the largest geographical district in the county.
Supervisor Perez’s office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.