Bill to improve migrant farmworker housing conditions dies in Texas House

May 17, 2017

Credit U.S. Department of Agriculture

A bill aimed at improving the housing conditions of migrant farmworkers died in the Texas House late last week.

As The Texas Observer reports, because farmworkers relocate from harvest to harvest, they depend on housing provided by employers. Many are on “guest worker” visas that under federal law, require their employers to provide adequate housing, but nine out of 10 lack access to licensed housing and live in structures that lack running water, electricity and ventilation. 

House Bill 2365 would have required the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), which hasn’t punished a single violating facility since 2005, to conduct regular inspections of farmworker housing and to increase fines for noncompliant growers, among other things, but when the measure didn’t reach the floor by midnight Thursday, its authors declared it dead.

Representative Ramon Romero, Jr., who authored the bill, told the Observer he plans to file similar legislation for the 2019 Legislature.