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Grower Won’t Provide Farmworker Housing

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Aired 4/19/09

A grower who employs many of the migrant workers who were kicked out of Mc Gonigle Canyon says it’s not his responsibility to provide housing. About 175 workers were forced to leave their makeshift camps in the canyon over the weekend. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

The men have been searching for somewhere to sleep since Saturday. Some pick tomatoes for Leslie Farms. Though the season runs through December, Leslie Farms General Manager, Peter Markoff, says the onus is not on him to shelter his workers. He says they choose to live in the canyon so they can save money, instead of paying rent.

Leslie Farms leases fields in McGonigle Canyon year-to-year from developer D.R. Horton. New neighborhoods ring the canyon. Markoff says it’s only a matter of time before they lose their lease to make way for more development. He says therefore, Leslie Farms would lose out if it invested in farm worker housing on that land.

Markoff says the farm has not provided workers with blankets or jackets. But he says they do give workers materials to build makeshift shelters. Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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