Washington, DC - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the naming of the Cesar Chavez Courtyard at USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"Today is the birthday of one of America's great heroes," Vilsack said. "2015 is also the 50th anniversary of the hunger strike he led to bring justice and equality to the people who feed America. USDA is humbled and honored to dedicate a piece of our headquarters to Cesar Chavez, the man who led and organized peaceful, positive change for American farmworkers."
Vilsack spoke alongside Christine Chavez-Gonzalez, Chavez's granddaughter and Farmworker Coordinator for USDA. They were joined by Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden and USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez. The newly named Cesar Chavez Courtyard is an inviting outside patio on the second floor of the South Building, part of the USDA's National Headquarters on the National Mall.
Fifty years ago, Chavez led a United Farm Workers hunger strike that secured raises and improved conditions for farmworkers all over the United States. USDA continues to help farmworkers through programs that ensure they work and live in safe environments.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $208 million to develop affordable housing for farmworkers through the agency's Farm Labor Housing Program. Last week, USDA started accepting applications for loans and grants for farmworker housing for 2015.
Rural Development's investments in farmworker housing are financing projects like a 41-home community for farmworkers in Salinas Valley, Calif. The new apartment complex, Terracina Oaks, is comprised of five, two-story buildings and a community building. The community building features a computer learning center, laundry facilities, community kitchen and a multi-use room. In addition to support for housing, USDA Rural Development offers a variety of loan and grant programs to help farmworkers and rural residents in general start businesses.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has a portfolio of more than $209 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas. For more information on Rural Development, visit the Rural Development website www.rd.usda.gov.