The Housing for the Harvest program is back in Kern and has been expanded to include financial assistance for agricultural and food processing workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to self-isolate at home.
Those who can isolate at home will received $500 to ease their financial burden of missing work, wellness checks and wraparound services.
“This is a group of people who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said James Burger, the Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for Community Action Partnership of Kern. “They are essential workers to our economy.”
He continued: “Anything we can do to create these safe spaces is critical.”
The program was first implemented in the State of California in mid-2020 with the hopes of providing assistance to agricultural workers; however, workers across the state did not participate in the program, according to Burger.
Despite big pushes to promote the program, only eight farm workers in Kern took advantage of the program since it was implemented in mid-2020 to December 2020. Burger says it’s because the program originally called for workers to isolate in hotels.
“Our experience was that it’s a hard thing to ask somebody to completely step away from everything in their life and go into a hotel room and isolate for that period,” said Burger.
This is why the state has decided to adjust the program to allow for workers to isolate in their homes; however, the program will continue to provide temporary hotel housing options for agricultural workers to self-isolate if they have been exposed or have tested positive for COVID-19 and cannot properly self-isolate at home.
Workers who choose to isolate in a hotel room will receive $1,000 in financial assistance, three meals a day, and daily wellness checks.
Eligible candidates must be a resident of Kern County; must work in the food processing or agriculture in Kern; must have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed and have been asked to self-isolate.
Those who qualify will not be asked for their immigration status.
Individuals can call 2-1-1 to start the process. Eligibility is determined by phone and documents may be sent via text message.