Worker Housing

Farmers are frequently involved in providing housing for farm employees and sometimes for their families as well. Various agencies from federal, state, and local governments may be involved in regulating farm worker housing, depending on the type provided. Farmworker housing regulations vary significantly depending on the number of workers housed and on the type of worker, permanent or migrant and seasonal. In any case, farm managers who provide housing have legal and ethical responsibilities to make sure the housing begins, and remains, a safe and healthy place for people to live.


The New York State Department of Health regulates migrant and seasonal farmworker housing using Part 15 of the New York health code. While this code does not apply to all types of farm employees, it does provide excellent housing health and safety guidelines even for those who are not specifically covered by the law.

Tools for Managing Farm-Provided Worker Housing

The Farm Worker Housing Quiz is a starting point to assess your own housing and see how you compare to current regulations.

Tips for Managing Farm-Provided Worker Housing is a set of guidelines to help managers think through and improve their housing management practices.

Orientation Guide for Occupants of Farm Housing is designed to help managers and housing occupants better learn and communicate about using and maintaining systems commonly found in farm-provided housing. (Orientation Guide in Spanish)

Inspection Checklist for Farm-Provided Worker Housing is a tool for managers to use when routinely inspecting housing.

Cornell Farmworker Program Housing Quality Checklist is an English/Spanish document with pictures. It is designed to be laminated and posted in the housing so that workers can anonymously note when repairs are needed and managers can respond.

Pest management resources from Cornell’s Farmworker Program and Integrated Pest Management Program:

Funding Sources to Improve or Construct Farm Worker Housing

Farmworker Housing Program in New York. “The Farmworker Housing Program is a low-cost loan program, in existence since 1995, which assists in the improvement of existing housing or the construction of new housing for farmworkers (whether seasonal or year-round).” Agricultural producers can borrow up to $100,000 per year to purchase, upgrade, or build farmworker housing. Farm Credit East, ACA administers the program and is your point of contact to participate. Here is a link to the state agency, New York Homes and Community Renewal, and here is the link to Farm Credit East’s program.

PathStone is a non-profit agency that provides matching grants for projects to improve farmworker housing.


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