Monday, July 1, 2013

Watching over Duroville and its agricultural workers

The Transit Coalition has been keeping watch on the quality of life in the agricultural villages east of Indio in the southeastern Coachella Valley. Linked together by SunLine transit buses, numerous substandard mobile home parks and housing can be found throughout the area. One major development, the Desert Mobile Home Park (aka. Duroville) could be once described as a third-world slum housing up to 4,000-6,000 people all within a square mile. The federal government finally ordered the trailer park to close. Duroville and other trailer parks house the region's agricultural workers. If you've ever eaten locally grown grapes or similar produce, chances are they could have been harvested by these laborers who work in blazing heat, only to come home in a hot and stuffy trailer.

Harvey Duro, Duroville's operator, had plans to improve the living conditions of the trailer park, but claimed resources were instead spent on legal fees. According to local reports, most of Duroville's residents relocated to a new trailer development, Mountain View Estates, with the help of Riverside County. Concerns over the mass relocation of Duroville's residents were therefore averted, but getting to that point was far from smooth sailing in regards to securing public funding.

Fair-minded individuals recognize that taxpayer-funded redevelopment agencies are certainly debatable statewide, but there is no question that this agricultural region is not an entitlement or a me-myself-and-I society. The majority of residents here are hard working farmworkers working in intense heat to provide for their children and give us the produce we eat. Numerous local non-profit organizations have been gracious enough to step in and help fix up the housing conditions in this area. To be fair, the region does need to be policed better to combat drug-related crimes and debates need to continue for solutions to improve marketplace wages with additional agricultural jobs, but nobody who works all day in 110 degree heat should be subject to come home without air conditioning or clean water.

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