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Publish Date: 8/22/2005

County to reopen migrant housing


LONGMONT — Boulder County leaders will spend $500,000 to renovate and reopen a migrant farmworker dormitory east of the city by late 2006.

Casa Vista, on Quicksilver Road just east of the Weld County border, will reopen with nine two-bedroom apartments next year.

The units will be smaller than those at nearby Casa de la Esperanza, a community for migrant families that opened in 1993, but should help satisfy the need for housing for agricultural workers in the St. Vrain Valley, Boulder County Housing Authority director Frank Alexander said.

“There’s so much demand that we’ve experienced for family housing,” Alexander said. “People are coming and looking for a toehold in this community, and they’re bringing their families.”

The project will be partially funded by a $225,000 rural development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Casa Vista shut down in 2001, after a decade as a 24-room dormitory — with just one shower — for single male migrant workers.

Management had trouble running Casa Vista because of “social issues” in the dormitory, Alexander said.

“If you put that many men in a site with a single shower, it’s difficult to manage,” he said.

The new Casa Vista will house smaller families and couples whose children have moved out of the home, Alexander said.

Today, the yellow building’s lot is covered with weeds. Two netless soccer goals stand in the back yard.

By next year, contractors hope to make the building as vibrant as Casa de la Esperanza, an apartment complex for migrant workers with three- and four-bedroom units and a playground at 1520 S. Emery St.

Residents at that community pay between $515 and $605 a month per unit and must show proof that they work in agriculture. The primary earner in each home must show proof of citizenship or a valid green card, property manager Sally Vigil said.

Residents receive help from local volunteers who teach them computer and English literacy skills, program coordinator Carlota Loya Hernandez said.

The strategy at Casa de la Esperanza helps migrant workers, many of whom are from Mexico and speak no English, integrate into the Longmont area, she said.

The county’s two migrant worker facilities are important for cutting down homelessness among farm laborers, which was a serious issue before the two communities opened, Loya Hernandez said.

“Migrant and seasonal farmworkers really needed adequate housing,” she said. “They were living in their vehicles.”

About 40 families from Casa de la Esperanza have purchased homes in the area over the past decade, she said.

Brad Turner can be reached at 720-494-5420, or by e-mail at bturner@times-call.com.

 

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