The January mass shooting in Half Moon Bay exposed a secret underbelly of immigrant farm workers living in squalid on-farm housing, but a million-dollar donation from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s foundation will go to improving those workers’ living conditions.
The very disturbing Half Moon Bay mass shooting this past January took the lives of seven immigrant farmworkers (and nearly took an eighth one’s life). But it also drew attention to the squalid living conditions of farmworkers who lived on sites at the California Terra Garden farm where the shooting took place. Workers there lived in broken-down old shipping containers, with no running water, and washed their clothes in outdoor pits.
Viewed the crime scenes today in Half Moon Bay. Deplorable, heartbreaking living conditions. As I said on the campaign trail, we must raise the quality of life of farm workers, NOW. pic.twitter.com/mBIqisKurQ— Ray Mueller (@Ray_Mueller_) January 26, 2023
We may have moved on from that shooting ten months ago, but San Mateo County officials are still determined to address the farmworker living conditions. And KRON4 reports they just got a $1 million boost from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic nonprofit of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his spouse Priscilla Chan. Per KRON4, the grant will “help build housing for victims of the Half Moon Bay mass shooting and other farmworkers along the coast.”
“There are few communities more deeply impacted by the rising cost of housing than farmworkers,” Chan said in a statement to KRON4. “This project will help add more safe and affordable housing options for farmworkers and their families in Half Moon Bay, and we hope it will be a catalyst for similar investments throughout the region.”
You could rightfully scoff that $1 million isn’t going to build much housing in this market. But the grant is going to a larger project at 880 Stone Pine Road, where the City of Half Moon Bay plans to build “up to 50 detached manufactured homes” with parking and amenities, and where “at least 28 units will be focused on ownership for farmworker households.”
San Mateo County assistant county executive told KRON4 that “Access to affordable housing is crucial for social inclusion and to alleviate poverty. It ensures that people from diverse backgrounds, including low-income farmworkers, have a place in the community.”
San Mateo County has also started a farmworker housing task force that intends to serve as a watchdog on unpermitted farm labor housing in the county.
Image: HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 24: In an aerial view, residences are seen next to greenhouses at a farm where a mass shooting occurred on January 24, 2023 in Half Moon Bay, California. Seven people were killed at two separate farm locations that were only a few miles apart in Half Moon Bay on Monday afternoon. The suspect, Chunli Zhao, was taken into custody a few hours later without incident. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)