Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Buena Neuva Agricultural Worker Housing Blessing and Dedication
September 8, 2003

Good afternoon.

I am honored to take part in this blessing and dedication ceremony.

It feels great to be celebrating another step forward in agricultural worker and migrant housing.

Agriculture is extremely important to our state.

It is the economic engine of Eastern Washington.

It fuels our entire state’s economic development and growth statewide.

Our farms and fields put food and beverages on our own tables, and feed our nation and the world.

This bounty of goodness is the result of very hard work—work most of us will never have to do.

Our year-round and migrant agriculture workers are the strong backs, nimble fingers, and patient and resilient labor that make this bounty possible.

They are the ones who work the long, hard hours in burning sun, stinging wind, biting cold and drenching rain.

Work so the rest of us can enjoy the fruits of our labor in the comfort of our homes.

The people who put the food on our tables should not have to live in overcrowded, unsanitary, and dangerous conditions.

Farm workers live by the same values we all hold dear—hard work and loyalty to family.

And they deserve to be honored and rewarded, not neglected and subjected to hardship.

Shortly after becoming governor, I have visited trailer parks where people are packed like sardines into small trailers.

I’ve seen people who work hard by day and have only cars or cardboard boxes for a roof over their heads at night.

I’ve been to the riverbanks, where entire families camp out under tarps, bathing and washing their clothes in the river.

I’ve seen people cooking on open fires—not for fun weekend recreation, but for everyday survival.

No one who works as hard as our agricultural workers do should ever have to live like that.

Their children should not have to grow up living in those conditions.

Farmworkers are just as important as the rest of us in making Washington a great place to live.

And today we continue our fight to make sure that Washington’s hardest working people have the simple, decent shelter that they deserve and that human dignity demands.

Today, we take one more step in building an opportunity culture in our state.

An opportunity culture where hard work opens doors—to real homes, and to a better life.

This development will comprise 25 new
two-, three- and four-bedroom year-round apartments, a community facility, and 10 new two- and three-bedroom units of migrant housing.

This will be a community of hope, comfort, safety and happiness for many deserving workers and their families.

I congratulate the innovative partnership that has made this development possible.

The partnership is a unique combination of public, private and faith-based funding.

I want to recognize the partners behind the Buena Nueva Agricultural Worker Family and Migrant Housing Development.

The partnership includes:

·The Catholic Diocese of Yakima and its Diocese of Yakima Housing Services

·State of Washington Housing Finance Commission

·Washington State Housing Trust Fund and Community Development Block Grant Program

·Yakima County

·Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle

·Key Bank National Association

·Homestead Capital of Portland, OR

·Pacific Northwest Bank

·Impact Capital

Thanks to all of you.

We will continue to support decent housing for year-round and migrant agricultural workers and their families.

In the last four years, we’ve made progress with the $16 million.

This includes:

·450 beds in camps

·The Rent-A-Tent program with 630-700 beds per season at on-farm locations

·Infrastructure program that has preserved or created approximately 2400 beds at on-farm locations throughout the state

·Permanent farmer worker housing—464 year-round units, 28 seasonal migrant worker units

The strategic plan for 2003-2005 states that “the Housing Services Division will create approximately 250 apartments of housing and 2000 beds to address the shortage.” We’ve already given out half the money for the next two years of programs.

We will continue to work until all farm workers and their families are adequately and decently housed.

And I encourage more partnerships like this one.

The people who work so hard, feed our state, nation and the world, and play such an important part in our economy and our lives have a right to live in decent, safe and comfortable circumstances.

We must not settle for anything less.

Working together, let’s make sure that for all of our people, Washington remains a great place to live, work and raise a family.

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