Meeting Critical Family Housing

Shortfalls in Agriculture Industry

Greenfield Commons, a 222-unit affordable housing development approved by the City of Greenfield in May, is a milestone project in addressing one of the most critical affordable housing needs in the Salinas Valley.

The project, which specifically targets families tied to the local agriculture industry, is the largest single contribution of farmworker housing to the goal outlined in the Farmworker Housing Study and Action Plan for Salinas Valley and Pajaro Valley.


That report, completed in April 2018, showed that more than 45,000 additional units of farmworker housing would be needed to alleviate the severely overcrowded conditions that exist among the region’s ag workers, and the most significant need outlined by that report is for permanent farmworker family housing. 

The goal outlined by that draft action plan was to produce 5,300 permanent, affordable farmworker housing units over a five-year span to stabilize the agriculture workforce in the Salinas and Pajaro Valley Region. EAH Housing — one of the largest nonprofit housing developers in the western United States — became aware of the need as a result of that study, and Greenfield Commons set out to address it. 

Greenfield Commons, which MBEP endorsed and advocated for, has designated half of its units for agricultural workers and their families. The project will be built on an 11-acre site at 41206 Walnut Ave. owned by EAH Housing and will feature garden-style apartments in a mix of one- to three-bedroom units serving a range of income levels, from 25 percent to 70 percent of area median income households. 

By approving this project, the City of Greenfield contributed 222 affordable housing units to our region and stands out as exceeding its low and very low-income RHNA obligations, an accomplishment worthy of note.

EAH Housing serves more than 25,000 residents, including seniors, families, students, people with disabilities, frail elderly, and the formerly homeless, at 222 properties in California and Hawaii. There was little question that Greenfield Commons was a development that needed to happen, given the needs of the local workforce and the data outlined in the farmworker housing study. “When we purchased the property, we felt, clearly, that this was a location for permanent farmworker housing,” said EAH Housing Project Manager Michael Schaier. 

The project is pursuing LEED Gold Certification and is designed to offset 100% of the property’s energy consumption with on-site renewable sources. That’s impactful for multiple reasons, said Schaier. “In a time of forest fires, climate change, in a time of heavy utility bills for residents, we’re building a project that potentially could survive off the grid,” explained Schaier.

Construction is expected to begin in October 2022, occurring in two phases over a 10-month period.

“The City of Greenfield is not that large, so when you propose 222 aff units for farmworkers, there are a lot of questions,” said Schaier. “We went in as sort of a new face, and we’re happy that we have the support of the county and the city.”

EAH Housing already manages a seasonal family migrant housing development in Gilroy, as well as the Riverwalk Apartments and Water Street Apartments In Santa Cruz County, but Greenfield Commons marks its first permanent affordable housing development for agricultural families. 

“The thing I want to emphasize is how important it is to get these units built,” said Schaier. “During COVID, with the number of people that are experiencing homelessness, and the crowding that occurs in the farmworker housing community, there couldn’t be a more right time to get this project built.”

Earlier this month, EAH Housing was awarded $7.3 million to develop another Monterey County project. Lightfighter Village, unanimously approved by the City of Marina in November 2018, would create 71 new housing units — mostly studio apartments — to serve veterans and their families at the Veterans Transition Center, in partnership with Affordable Housing Program and No Place Like Home 

Schaier said about half of those units would be set aside for veterans that have experienced homelessness.

Learn more about Greenfield Commons on EAH’s website.