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The City of Santa Maria hosted their first community meeting to discuss the H-2A temporary worker program

Posted at 6:29 AM, Jun 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 09:29:34-04

The federal H-2A program allows American employers or agents to bring in foreign visitors to fill temporary agricultural jobs. 

Advocates and city staff say there is a need for temporary housing for H-2A workers.

An estimated 1,700 farm workers live in the Santa Maria area. Approximately 800 live in converted hotels or motels and 900 live in the neighborhoods

One woman at Thursday’s meeting claims 10 to 20 men live in some homes on her street.

The Santa Maria assistant city attorney says many of the short-term workers are here for a week to nine months and live in homes bought by farm owners within Santa Maria neighborhoods.

"The main pressure – the main push back, if you will – coming from the community is in the low density R-1 neighborhoods," said Philip Sinco, assistant city attorney for Santa Maria. "A lot of the H2A housing units are more crowded than most people in the R-1 districts are comfortable with."

There will be morning meetings coming up and they will be announced later this month.

The purpose of the meetings will be to hear from local residents about potential issues with temporary housing, as well as educating them on the program and how it will be conducted in the future.