San Mateo county earmarks $1M for farmworker housing after 'deplorable' living conditions uncovered

San Mateo County on Tuesday pledged $1 million toward ramping up efforts to build affordable and adequate housing for farmworkers.

The move comes after a mass shooting in January at two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay that left seven people dead. The tragedy drew attention to the "deplorable" and unsafe living conditions local farmworkers are faced with, like sleeping in shipping containers and wooden shacks. Some of the dwellings lacked running water and insulation, San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller said.

Since then local and state leaders vowed to raise the quality of life for agricultural workers in Half Moon Bay after witnessing the cramped conditions they were exposed to. 

The $1 million in funds from the county will cover the costs necessary for planning and project management. The county is seeking $5 million in state funds from the Joe Serna, Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant Program to cover construction and rehabilition costs. 

County officials said they are working with the city of Half Moon Bay to identify a site for the development of 45 to 50 for low-income homes for farmworkers.

 "All of our farm working families deserve a safe and healthy place to live. If we are going to ensure that we maintain a thriving agricultural community on our coast, what we need more than anything else are affordable homes for our farmworkers and their families," said Mueller.