Providing Affordable Housing and Social Services for Farmworkers
MAKING HOME POSSIBLE IN WASHINGTON
Farmworkers are the backbone of the agriculture economy, providing the labor needed to bring crops from the field to our kitchen tables. Despite their vital role in the food supply chain, access to affordable, reliable housing is often a major challenge for farmworkers and their families.
For one community in Washington’s Yakima Valley, a new multifamily housing development, financed in part by a $12 million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity investment from Freddie Mac, is addressing the housing needs of farmworker families while expanding access to vital resources.
St. Catherine De Vigri Villas in Tieton, Washington — the result of a partnership among Freddie Mac, National Equity Fund (NEF) and Catholic Charities Housing Services (CCHS) — is a property that offers 53 affordable rental units for farmworker households earning at or below 50% of the area median income. This is the first new, affordable rental housing development constructed in Tieton in 30 years.
“We’re making a difference in hard-to-serve rural areas where housing is scarce,” said Nikki Harvey, underwriting director for Freddie Mac’s LIHTC equity effort. “It feels great to invest in affordable housing for farmworkers and help them improve their lives.”
The development offers two-, three- and four-bedroom floorplans and a community building with meeting spaces, classrooms, on-site laundry and a computer lab with high-speed internet access. Units are available exclusively to farmworker families via a recorded regulatory agreement and restrictive covenant.
Through collaboration with local artists, the property features two mosaic installations that celebrate Tieton’s agricultural heritage, imparting a sense of pride and community among residents.
“Through our partnerships with local community organizations, we are able to offer more than just an affordable place to live,” said Bryan Ketcham, vice president and director of CCHS. “We are able to lift up the voices of our residents through community art and engagement to foster a sense of belonging and place for our residents, bringing hope to life in rural central Washington.”
At St. Catherine De Vigri Villas, CCHS and on-site staff coordinate access to a variety of resources for residents, including after-school programming, local health clinics and housing counseling. These services have led to observable improvements in educational outcomes — 87.8% of high school seniors living in CCHS communities earned a diploma or GED in 2019, outpacing the statewide average by 7 percentage points.
“Farmworkers are an important part of our nation’s story and often lack support in accessing safe and stable housing,” said Tony Daguanno, vice president of originations at NEF. “I am proud that NEF was able to play a small part in bringing the first affordable housing development in three decades to the great city of Tieton.”
LIHTC equity investments are a powerful tool in Freddie Mac’s mission to increase access to affordable housing. By providing the capital needed to finance large multifamily projects, we are able to make home possible in rural communities that are often overlooked by developers.
To learn more about Freddie Mac’s commitment to supporting affordable housing in rural communities, visit our Duty to Serve webpage.