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Council releases funds for farm worker housing

CARLSBAD — On July 13, City Council members approved to release $1.9 million in funding to Catholic Charities to begin construction of a farm worker housing facility in Carlsbad.
With the funding now available, Catholic Charities is one step closer to constructing two proposed building at its property on Impala Drive. This will allow the charitable organization to continue providing services to Carlsbad’s farm workers and homeless population.
“We will continue for the next 20 years the same kind of service that we’ve provided the city of Carlsbad for the last 18 years,” Sister RayMonda Duvall said.
The proposed housing project includes two permanent facilities for construction at Catholic Charities’ property on Impala Drive. One would specifically serve the city’s farm worker community, while the second would replace the current La Posada de Guadalupe homeless shelter.
Releasing the funds represents “a strong partnership with the city and Catholic Charities in a way that would enhance agricultural operations within the city,” associate planner Kevin Pointer said.
Money for the project was drawn from the city’s Agricultural Conversion Mitigation Fee fund, which is specifically used for projects like the one proposed by Catholic Charities.
A $2 million grant for the project was originally approved in 2008, with an initial $108,500 released for design work. The remaining $1.9 million was to be held in an account and released following committee reviews and council’s approval.
“It’s the will of the citizens of Carlsbad, as expressed through Envision Carlsbad, to support these kinds of projects,” said Tom Maddox, board member of Caring Residents of Carlsbad, during public comment.
While several others spoke in support of the project, lone dissenter Gerry Nance argued that farm labor contractors, not the city, should take responsibility for housing migrant workers.
He also stressed that the city needs to “verify that they have lawful presence in the United States to prevent the housing of illegal aliens.”
In their closing comments, council members applauded Catholic Charities for their success within the city over the last 18 years.
Through their services, the charity helped combat a growing issue in Carlsbad where homeless and migrant workers were seeking shelter in the city’s lagoons and canyons.
“In my opinion, Catholic Charities was kind of a lifesaver to take over this problem,” said Councilman Keith Blackburn, who dealt with the issue during his time on Carlsbad’s police force. “Thanks to La Posada, there was a humane place that I could direct them to.”