Fair Housing Study, 2020-2021

Fair Housing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers, Employment, and Migrant Housing Labor Camps (2020-2021)

Housing and working conditions are important social determinants of health essential to achieve health equity particularly in vulnerable populations. The MFP team, in collaboration with state partners, conducted a community-engaged, mixed methods study to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic and persistent occupational, social, legal, and economic barriers impact farmworkers’ access to fair housing and employment opportunities in Michigan and the implications for farmworker health. This study builds on work previously conducted through the Michigan Farmworker Project in 2019. This study, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development CARES grant and administered by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR), was part of a partnership between the MDCR, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)-Office of Migrant Affairs, Farmworker Legal Services and other stakeholders.

This mixed-methods study included two phases. The first phase of the study consisted of collecting qualitative data through 20 in-depth interviews conducted by phone between August of 2020 and January 2021. These data informed the development of the quantitative survey that was administered to 63 farmworkers between May 2021 and August 2021 via phone interviews (phase 2).

Overall this study found that for farmworkers in Michigan, housing access, affordability and quality are important and complicated issues that need to be assessed within the context of their employment and working conditions. Precarious employment and the economic marginalization of farmworkers affects their housing affordability, access and housing quality.

Findings from this study have contributed to identifying gaps in fair housing, occupational safety and health, environmental protections, and service provision (e.g., legal, social, economic, health) for farmworkers and may serve to support changes to policy and practices that would improve living and working conditions for this population of workers in Michigan.

Funding Sources

This project was funded by a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) CARES Grant awarded to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (Fair Housing and the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic in migrant, seasonal and H-2A farmworkers in Michigan – PI: Trevino; Contract PI: Handal). Lisbeth Iglesias-Rios was supported by a post-doctoral fellowship (T32 ES007062) from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). This project was also supported in part by the Grant or Cooperative Agreement Number, T42 OH008455, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH, the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development.