March 2020
House Farm Workers!
Working to promote safe, decent, secure and affordable housing for all
ï»żVentura County farm workers since 2004.
Dear friends,

We find ourselves in an unexpected and unusual situation with the onset of COVID-19. Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by this virus. We also send our appreciation and gratitude to those working around the clock to help mitigate the spread of the virus, as well as those that continue to provide us with the necessary resources and services to stay safe and healthy, like our farm workers and other members of the agricultural community.

Our staff is working from home at this time and doing our part to flatten the curve. We plan to continue our important work to make sure our farm workers have access to safe, decent, secure, and affordable housing, and will do what we can during this unprecedented time. We are thankful for your continued support!

Stay safe and healthy,

Alondra Serna
Executive Director
Recent Events
"How Great is the Need? Developing a Comprehensive Action Plan for Farm Worker Housing in Ventura County"

On February 28, House Farm Workers! held a task force presentation by Jennifer Coile, the program manager who led the Farm Worker Housing Study and Action Plan in Salinas Valley and Pajaro Valley. She provided attendees with an overview of the steps that were taken to initiate the study, who was involved, how it was financed, and the research methodology and process. Coile also discussed the Action Plan and the current progress that has been made on the objectives across jurisdictions and counties. It was also an opportunity to discuss what it would take to produce a comprehensive study of farm workers and their housing needs in Ventura County.

There was a great turnout of about 46 stakeholders including local agricultural land owners, housing developers, and farm worker housing advocates.

Reply to this email if you would like to be added to our Ventura County farm worker housing study stakeholder email list.

Link to Jennifer Coile's presentation is below:

Other links:
Click the images below to see the full infographic:
City Group Updates

  • Oxnard Farm Worker Housing Committee:
  • In January, guest speaker Ana Maria Lugo, Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, spoke on the challenges the census count faces in reaching vulnerable populations, such as farm workers.
  • At the February meeting, the group met with Jeff Lambert, City of Oxnard Community Development Director, who shared in-progress and future development plans.

  • Santa Paula Affordable Housing Task Force
  • Members of the group attended and provided input on the Santa Paula General Plan update public workshop, and the draft General Plan public hearing #1.
  • Members drafted and signed a letter to the City Council supporting the 2020 General Plan amendment, in particular the proposed changes to the land use, economic development and circulation elements.
Interested in joining one of our city groups and getting notices about upcoming meetings? Please contact us at to be added to a city group mailing list.
Things to Know
The Ellen Brokaw House Farm Workers! Scholarship:
Apply Now!
Farm workers and their families face a unique set of challenges in securing higher education. The average annual wage for a berry farm worker in Ventura County is $24,000. The average cost of attending a California State University as a first-time freshman is $23,000. The high costs of attending college can leave children of farm workers with limited options when it comes to pursuing higher education. 

According to Housing Matters, "children who live in a crowded household at any time before age 19 are  less likely  to graduate from high school and tend to have lower educational attainment at age 25." The mission of  House Farm Workers!  is to support safe, decent and affordable housing for farm workers through advocacy and education. When children are housed in a safe, decent, and affordable home they have a better chance at completing high school and continuing on to higher education.
This year, we will be awarding a $3,000 scholarship
ï»żto each of three students.
We are pleased to offer this scholarship to students whose parents are farm workers in Ventura County. The Ellen Brokaw  House Farm Workers!  
Scholarship is awarded each year to college-bound or current college students whose parents are farm workers in Ventura County.

The scholarship is named in honor of Ellen Brokaw, founding chairwoman of  House Farm Workers!  A prominent member of Ventura County’s agricultural community, involved in production of lemons, avocados and nursery stock, she has been an inspirational leader in the long campaign to improve the lives of farm workers and their families.

Important Dates:
  • Application due: Friday, May 1, 2020
  • Winners will receive notice: by Friday, May 29, 2020
  • Winners will accept award: Thursday, July 16, 2020 at our annual fundraising dinner, From Field to Fork. 

  • Must be a child of a farm worker (seasonal or retired OK).
  • Must be a senior graduating from high school with a minimum 2.3 GPA and have been accepted by a two- or four-year college, OR be a current college student with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
  • Must be available to accept the award at our "From Field to Fork" fundraising dinner on Thursday, July 16, 2020.

Along with the online application, you must submit via email to :
  • One letter of recommendation from a mentor, employer, teacher, advisor, resident housing manager, or coach.
  • Your complete high school or college transcript up to the semester you are currently attending.
  • A copy of the letter of acceptance from the college you will attend. If you are a returning student or already in college, your current transcript will satisfy this requirement.
Direct any questions to .

ï»żClick the image below for the scholarship flyer in English and Spanish

Where Are They Now?
Ellen Brokaw Scholarship Recipients
ï»żViviana Avelar
Viviana Avelar is a 2016 Ellen Brokaw  House Farm Workers!  scholarship recipient. She is currently in her fourth year at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) majoring in Asian American Studies with a double minor in Sociocultural Linguistics and Educational Studies.

During her time at UCSB, Viviana has taken advantage of all the opportunities that college offers both in the classroom and outside. She is currently an undergraduate research assistant for two professors at the Gevirtz School of Education. She does audio transcription of interviews with elementary school teachers who are implementing the physics and engineering material that professors from UCSB have created for them. She also transcribes spoken words and actions of video recordings of classrooms in Oxnard for the Tri-lingual Community-Based Early Literacy and Pre-School Education for Indigenous Mixtec Children in California project. On campus, she serves as the co-publicity coordinator for the UCSB Chicanx/Latinx Graduation of 2020, and will also be interpreting for local elementary school parent/teacher conferences through the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at UCSB.

She is currently preparing for an internship at Santa Barbara County's Promotores Network through UCSB's Sara Miller McCune Endowed Internship and Public Service Program, which integrates academic study with an internship at a local nonprofit. She is working on preparing personal statements and supplemental personal essays for applications to law schools with an emphasis on social justice. We wish her the best of luck on her future goals!
Board Member Spotlight
Leslie Leavens
Leslie is Vice President of Finance and Operations for her family’s farming company, Leavens Ranches LLC , growers of lemons and avocados in Ventura and Monterey Counties, and wine grapes in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County. As a member of the Ag Futures Alliance, she became involved in the critical issue of farm worker housing and is now chair of the House Farm Workers! Board of Directors. Leslie also chairs the Ventura County ACP-HLB Task Force and serves on the boards of Saticoy Lemon Association and the Museum of Ventura County, as well as several water company boards. She is a past president of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County. Leslie is a graduate of the California Ag Leadership Program (Class 34) and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Donor Spotlight
Sending a heartfelt  thank you  to all who supported
our annual campaign.

With your support we were able to raise over  $16,000  through our direct-mail appeal! Your donations will support our efforts to promote safe, decent, and affordable housing for farm workers. Those efforts include local farm worker housing advocacy at the city and county levels, informing our community about the need and ways to advocate, and cultivating the next generation of farm worker housing advocate leaders through our farm worker immersion program. Your gift will help us improve the living standards of the hard-working people who keep Ventura County’s fields and orchards productive, and tables across our country filled
ï»żwith nutritious produce.
Thank you donors!
Barbara Macri-Ortiz ・ Brianne McGrath ・Charles Bowe ・Charles Pankow
Dan Long・David and Paula Shain・Dawn Mortara・Diane Ross
Ed McClements・Frank Naumann・Friend's Ranches ・Hedrick Properties
James Lloyd-Butler・James Lloyd-Butler Family LLC・Jane Thapa
Janna Minsk・Jeanne Boe・Jennifer Conwright
Jerry and Gail Weller Brown Charitable Fund ・Jess J. Ramirez
Juanita Suarez・Karen Flock ・Kate McLean and Steven Stone
Laure Mckinnon・Leslie Leavens・Maio and Montgomery Winkler
Marguerite Stouthamer・Nan Waltman・Oro Del Norte, LLC
Patricia and Scott Johnson・Peoples' Self-Help Housing・PL-B Ranch LLC
Priscila Cisneros・Richard and Sheila Tate・Richard Nahmias
Rico Farm Labor, Inc.・Sal and Darlene Gonzalez・Sharon L. Hillbrant
Shelby Paul・Susan L. Johnson・Taras and Lily Kiceniuk
Tracy Kahn and Norman Ellstrand・Ventura County Agricultural Association
House Farm Workers!