Published: Jun 29, 2011 9:06 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 29, 2011 8:08 PM EDT

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced $83,941,360 in grants through the National Farmworker Jobs Program to combat the chronic unemployment and underemployment experienced by migrant and seasonal farmworkers who depend primarily on agricultural labor jobs. A total of $78,253,180 will go to 52 organizations nationwide to provide training, employment and support services for farmworkers and their families. Among the grantees, the Florida Department of Education received $4,146,020 to assist farmworkers in the state.

An additional $5,688,600 will go to 16 organizations to provide temporary or permanent housing assistance. The Florida Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County Inc. received $297,105 to assist with temporary housing in Belle Glade, Pahokee, Canal Point and South Bay, Fla. The Florida Non-Profit Housing Inc. received $519,247 to assist with permanent housing plus $188,514 to assist with temporary housing needs in several states including Florida.

The National Farmworker Jobs Program helps eligible workers improve their agricultural job skills, and train for careers in emerging industries and occupations that offer higher wages and more stable employment. The program also offers services such as child care, health care and transportation assistance.

“Agricultural workers face significant barriers to stable employment, and all too often it is their families who pay the price,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “These grants address this reality by not only helping workers improve and expand their job skills, but also by providing housing and other crucial support services.”

The housing assistance grants will provide permanent housing assistance, temporary and/or emergency housing assistance, or a combination of both. Permanent housing assistance services include pre-development and development services; project management; and resource development to secure acquisition, construction or renovation, and other operating funds for farmworker housing. Temporary housing assistance services include housing units for temporary occupancy, the management of such housing units, emergency housing payments and case management. Services typically are provided in more than one state or areas of a single state.

The National Farmworker Jobs Program is authorized by Congress in Section 167 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, and grants are allocated through a formula that estimates the number of eligible workers in each state or territory. Puerto Rico and 45 states each have one grantee. California has five grantees. There are no grantees in Alaska. Connecticut and Rhode Island are considered a combined service delivery area, as are Maryland and Delaware.

The grants cover a two-year period but are funded on an annual basis. The awards announced today are for July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012. Second year allocations will be dependent on the funds available through the fiscal year 2012 appropriations process and on grantees’ compliance with all current and future departmental guidance.