FARMWORKER HOUSING AND SPACES OF BELONGING IN WOODBURN, OREGON*

Authors


  • *

    I wish to thank the Farmworker Housing Development Corporation staff and all research participants for supporting this project. Thanks also to Andrew Schulz, Alec Murphy, and Susan Hardwick for their excellent feedback. Any errors or unconvincing interpretations are my own.

Abstract

ABSTRACT. This article traces the history of efforts to build subsidized farmworker housing in Woodburn, Oregon, during the early 1990s. Although the northern Willamette Valley has been dependent on Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers since the 1940s, until the 1980s most of those workers had been migratory and lived in labor camps. Political economic transformations shifted these dynamics, causing an increasing number of farmworkers to settle permanently in towns such as Woodburn. Rising housing costs, in combination with skyrocketing demand for low-income housing, led to a housing crisis in the late 1980s. The Farmworker Housing Development Corporation, established in 1991, successfully built two housing projects in Woodburn despite fierce resistance from city leaders and many longtime residents. These housing projects not only provided safe and affordable housing for farmworkers but also claimed a space of belonging for a group profoundly marginalized in terms of economics, race, and legal status in Oregon and throughout the United States.

Ancillary