Napa County grapegrowers have voted overwhelmingly in favor of extending the annual assessment on vineyards another five years and gradually raising the rate from $10 to $15 per acre to help defray the cost of housing for the county’s farmworkers.
The measure garnered 84 percent approval from 1,251 affected county propertyowners, as ballots were counted during a Napa County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. It was largest approval vote that Chairwoman Belia Ramos said she could remember.
“It’s a reflection of the housing challenge,” wrote Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza on Twitter. “For the folks staying at our centers, there is no other place to stay.”
The county farmworker housing program provides seasonal affordable accommodations for 180 migrant workers at three centers in the county. Residents get three meals a day plus literacy and other training programs for just $23 per day total cost and rental cost of $14 a day.
Money for operations for the housing program comes largely from the annual assessment on vineyards and rent paid by each occupant. The assessment must be renewed every five years, and approval for the increase still needs to be signed off by the governor.
Napa is the only county in California that provides farmworker housing fully funded by occupant rent and the industry in partnership with local housing funds. The program has garnered statewide attention, Ramos said.
In June, the county received an additional $250,000 in state funding for farmworker housing.
Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at Cynthia.Sweeney@busjrnl.com or call 707-521-4259.
CORRECTION: The increase in the assessment rate will not begin in 2019.