Sacramento, CA – Today, Governor Brown signed Cecilia Aguiar-Curry’s (D-Winters) AB 317, a top priority bill for Napa County and the surrounding agricultural region, into law. This legislation provides Napa County with permanent, annual funding to support the three farmworker housing centers in the county. Beginning in the next budget cycle, the Napa County Housing Authority will receive $250,000 in matching-dollars each year. The action shows that the Governor and Legislature support the unique private-public model for farmworker housing developed by Napa County.
Upon hearing the good news, Aguiar-Curry exclaimed, “I am absolutely thrilled that Governor Brown has signed AB 317 into law! It is so important that we support this innovative housing program. Our agricultural workers are the heart of our farm community in the Napa region, and investing in this innovative, safe and healthy program is good for all of California.”
This legislative achievement for Napa County is in addition to Aguiar-Curry’s 2017-18 budget win, which provides $250,000 in current-year funding for the farmworker housing centers. Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry championed this budget request in combination with her bill to ensure that Napa County’s farmworkers can continue to have access to safe and reliable housing and the array of services available through the program.
“The success of Napa County’s wine industry begins at the first touch of the grapes by our farmworkers, who support the agricultural industry and economy of our community,” said Belia Ramos, Chair of the Napa County Board of Supervisors. “Napa County is California’s only provider of farmworker housing fully funded by occupant rent and the industry in partnership with local housing funds. We appreciate the State recognizing Napa County’s efforts and supporting our agricultural workforce.”
Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza added, “Because of the relentless advocacy and leadership of Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Senator Bill Dodd, the Napa Valley Vintners, and our wine industry partners, we can continue to provide safe and affordable seasonal housing for Napa County farmworkers.”
Napa is currently the only county that provides year-round housing to the region’s agricultural workers without any financial support from the state. The County created an innovative local partnership with the agricultural industry, and workers to ensure that hardworking farmworkers have a dependable and affordable place to live. Unfortunately, the effects of inflation and rising operational costs have forced Napa County to contemplate closing the centers. The funding the budget and AB 317 will provide and is critical to ensuring that the housing centers stay in operation.
“This is a big win for farmworkers in the Napa Valley, the backbone of our renowned wine industry,” said Rex Stults, Government Relations Director for the Napa Valley Vintners. “No other ag region does a better job of taking care of its workers. We offer our sincere appreciation to Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Senator Bill Dodd.” Stults traveled to Sacramento to provide testimony in support of AB 317 throughout the Legislative process.
“These centers meet a critical housing need for the entire agricultural region. The general lack of affordable housing has only enhanced the need for these centers,” said Aguiar-Curry. “AB 317 is necessary to support the unique housing program, because the workers these centers house are at the heart of the Napa agricultural community.”
Now that AB 317 has been signed, Aguiar-Curry plans to celebrate this year’s victories, but also continue working on the issue. “There is still more to be done to ensure that our hardworking farmworkers throughout California have access to affordable and reliable housing that supports them and their families,” said Aguiar-Curry. “I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues on this critical housing issue again in the upcoming legislative years.”
Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento.