(KRON) — Mark Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan, announced that the wealthy couple’s nonprofit organization will donate $1 million to help build housing for victims of the Half Moon Bay mass shooting and other farmworkers along the coast.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative awarded the grant to San Mateo County.
Chan said, “There are few communities more deeply impacted by the rising cost of housing than farmworkers. This project will help add more safe and affordable housing options for farmworkers and their families in Half Moon Bay, and we hope it will be a catalyst for similar investments throughout the region.” Chan is the co-founder and co-CEO of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
County officials said homes will be offered at below-market rates to farmworkers and their families who were displaced by the January mass shooting that killed seven farmworkers in Half Moon Bay.
Seven Hispanic and Asian farmworkers were fatally shot on January 23 at California Terra Gardens and Concord Farms. Prosecutors said the accused gunman, Chunli Zhao, was “angry at several co-workers over perceived mistreatment.”
Like many of the victims, Zhao was also a farmworker who lived in a tiny shack at California Terra Gardens. The tragedy exposed deplorable living conditions, wages as low as $9 a day, and violence on the farms. Officials found workers’ families living in shacks, trailers, and shipping containers with no insulation or running water.
The new grant will support efforts to build new housing at 880 Stone Pine Road, a site south of Highway 92 about a half-mile east of Highway 1. Officials from Half Moon Bay and the county are developing a design that includes detached prefabricated homes.
“We are grateful for the support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative that will aid the County in providing this vital affordable farmworker housing,” said Supervisor Ray Mueller, whose district encompasses the county’s coastal agricultural land.
The Chan Zuckerberg grant comes as the county is working with the City of Half Moon Bay, farmworker advocates, farmers and others to build more housing and increase farmworkers’ quality of life.
“Access to affordable housing is crucial for social inclusion and to alleviate poverty. It ensures that people from diverse backgrounds, including low-income farmworkers, have a place in the community,” said Iliana Rodriguez, an assistant county executive who is leading local housing efforts.
San Mateo County has a $100 million agricultural industry. Half Moon Bay is famous for its annual pumpkin festival. Its migrant workers have a long history of “living in the shadows,” supervisors said.
Earlier this year, the county launched a new task force to make sure hundreds of farms along the coast were in compliance with local and state housing regulations.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of local Bay Area communities.