City leaders say housing is limited for migrant workers in Yakima County
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. - Local farmers say fewer people here in the Yakima Valley want to work in the fields which means more migrant workers come to the area to do the job.
Most of these workers commute from out of state, even out of the country and they need a place to stay.
Local agriculture leaders say there is not one solution.
"How do we best accommodate them? Is it on the farm? Is it in town? Is it on the outskirts of town or all of the above," said Washington Growers League Executive Director Mike Gempler. "I think the answer is all of the above."
Yakima County estimates around 40,000 people will work in the fields here in the valley this year.
Yakima City Councilwoman Dulce Gutierrez said she wants to work with other city leaders to see where they might be able to expand farm worker housing in the county.
"It's important that cities that make up Yakima County are proactive in supporting our strongest and leading economy which is the agricultural economy," Gutierrez said.
She said she thinks it's important to spread worker housing out across the county so one city doesn't have to take on the project alone.
Yakima city leaders said the next step is finding locations for farm worker housing, something convenient for the workers without disrupting nearby neighborhoods.