Housing as a Platform for Prosperity
While agriculture contributes $1.3 billion to the Riverside County economy, the Coachella Valley’s seasonal farmworkers represent some of the most economically disadvantaged people in the region. Many of these farmworkers live in what was once the Fred Young Labor Camp – the first permanent farmworker housing development in Southern California and one of the oldest in the country. These homes deteriorated over time and so too did the safety of the neighborhood.
Project Summary & Engagement Strategies:
In 2007, the USDA, the City of Indio, and Riverside County approached the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC) about taking over the labor camp. The state of disrepair and decay appalled CVHC, which set out to engage the residents to develop a master plan to revitalize the area. CVHC hosted a series of charrettes – design meetings – with residents, architects, city leaders, and others.
These conversations led designers to include community gardens on the property – allowing these expert growers and farmers to have land of their own on which to grow food. Using affordable housing as the stabilizing foundation, CVHC works to connect residents to community services that can help further transform their lives. Housing-based community services focus on economic self-sufficiency and asset building. These goals are furthered by onsite classes in financial-literacy and budgeting, access to scholarships for residents pursuing higher education, tax help referral, access to job training, GED programs, and a computer learning center that offers classes on computer skills and job search strategies. The site also includes onsite childcare, afterschool tutoring and other programs targeted to supporting youth.