San Mateo County to cover living costs of Half Moon Bay shooting victims' families

Families affected by January’s deadly mass shooting in Half Moon Bay are receiving much-needed help.

San Mateo County supervisors on Tuesday earmarked money for their short-term living expenses, including housing.

"The families from the mushroom farms are now at Airbnbs. They’re going to be there temporarily while we work to find more permanent housing for them," said Joaquin Jimenez, a representative with Ayudando Latinos a Sonar (Helping Latinos to Dream), or ALAS.

SEE ALSO: Half Moon Bay farmworkers describe horror of mass shooting

He said the 19 affected families will remain in that temporary housing through the end of March.

San Mateo County supervisors, during the lunch hour, voted to spend $750,000 to cover housing and living costs for the victims' families. The county will handle those costs for the rest of the year.

But for the long term, the county created a task force to investigate farmworker housing conditions.

"To go out and take a look at all of the places farmworkers are living and make sure they’re up to health and safety standards," said District 3 Supervisor Ray Mueller.

Weeks ago, he posted pictures of those living conditions on social media. This came after the deadly mass shooting on Jan. 23 at two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay. Sixty-six-year-old Chanli Zhao is charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in the crime.

"It’s too bad that it has to take a tragedy for more people to pay attention," said Jimenez.

Community stakeholders said helping victims’ families is only a piece of the problem relating to the well-being of farmworkers. Many believe more low-income housing is needed in California and across the nation.

"That long-term is something that we want to get accomplished, and we’re talking in the next few years. Not in terms of a like a 20-year horizon," said Mueller.

Added community activist Victoria Sanchez DeAlba, "We need affordable housing now. Affordable housing now…They’ve already been talking to state leaders here. Congress too."

There was unanimous support from the supervisors for the $750,000 in funding. However, community activists promised continued pressure in the months and years to come, to make sure the lost lives were not cut short in vain.

"Even after the lights, the cameras go out of here, we still got to continue to do our work," said Jimenez.

The funds that were approved Tuesday is only half of what’s needed.

Supervisor Mueller said he’s confident the other half will come from philanthropic people and organizations who’ve already pledged support.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter, @JesseKTVU and Instagram, @jessegontv.