Local farmworker camps evict tenants, threaten deportation

The Tulare County Housing Authority is under investigation after roughly 50 families came forward about unlawful evictions and poor living conditions

TULARE COUNTY – Tulare County Housing Authority employees have allegedly been unlawfully evicting families from farm working communities for two years. Now, past tenants and advocacy groups are finally coming forward.

Miss Hernandez watched as her family was evicted from their home at the Linnell Farm Labor Center. They were allegedly pushed out by Tulare County Housing Authority employees on the basis that her father was an undocumented worker, even though she and her siblings, including her disabled mother, were all documented.

“I don’t think threatening [my father] was good, it’s just very inhumane that they did that,” Hernandez said at the Feb. 24 housing authority meeting. “You wouldn’t think that would happen in your community because everyone grew up there together and everybody knows each other since they were little.”

Hernandez’s family is one of many that were allegedly forced out of their homes by the housing authority, who are now under investigation for unlawful evictions by the housing authority’s board of commissioners. Though this has been occurring for allegedly two years, it’s the first time the board has even heard about the issue. District 1 Supervisor Larry Micari said that though the exact motive of these evictions is unknown, there needs to be an investigation before anyone can be found at fault. He said that though it’s a difficult situation, it is important to remain fair and unbiased during the investigation.

“We need to stand united on this. We need to look at it. And we need to be objective. I know people want answers immediately. The problem is that there has to be an investigation conducted, there’s a process that has to go through in order for them to be able to come to the conclusion to determine what happens,” Micari said.


A string of over 50 families from Linnell Camp to the Woodville Farm Labor Center were part of the housing authorities push, with some employees reportedly threatening families of undocumented workers with deportation. The motive of employees to force out families is still not known, and has just recently come to light mid-February. According to a letter from the Central Valley Empowerment Alliance (CVEA) and the Centro de Unidad Popular Benito Juárez, Inc. (CUPBJ), local advocacy groups, to the housing authority board, many tenants were evicted from their home with as little as three days to move all of their belongings, despite their circumstances.

“One of the tenants included a single parent with three children, was evicted because she was pregnant during the pandemic and was unable to work. She currently lives with her three children in the family van. There were two DACA Recipients that were told their Social Security Card was not valid and needed to vacate their homes otherwise immigration and or the sheriff would be called on them,” CVEA and CUPBJ stated in their letter to the housing authority board.

Micari said that he had met with sheriff personnel, Captain Joe Torres and Captain Duane Cornett, who said the process should have gone much differently than some of the claims made. This makes the need for an investigation even more crucial, Micari said.

CVEA and CUPBJ recorded incidents from multiple local farmworker communities, such as:

  • Area manager continued harassing other families and told them, “See what happened to your neighbor and that could happen to you too.”
  • Children were not allowed to play outside, as the area manager told tenants the housing authority of Tulare County did not have liability insurance.
  • Some tenants over 60 years of age were denied the application to renew their contract due to inability to work.
  • Children with disabilities were denied special accommodation to fulfill their disability needs and were told to keep them inside regardless of proof of disability.
  • Families and their family members were coerced to sign a document agreeing and admitting their legal status.
  • Families were given “Three-Day Pay or Quit Notice” and were pushed to move out within 3 days. If they refused to move out, they were threatened by calling the INS and Sheriff Department.
  • If families did not move, they were even threatened with a $600 daily fee
  • The area manager required, outside the certification period, for the gross income (2024) calculation to determine eligibility.
  • Gross income for 2024 is required.
  • Eligible families went from paying $367.00 for one to three bedroom homes to $1,500 in rent, plus two months worth for a deposit.
  • Tenants were persuaded to apply under Section 8 housing, but if they were denied, they were given a 30-day notice, when they were already a housing authority tenant.

Not only that, but Rosalinda Calderon, a resident of the farmworker community, said that the living conditions are also very poor, especially when it comes to air conditioning. Calderon said that the temperatures in the homes have no air conditioning, and temperatures can reach triple digits during the summer. She also said that the septic tank produces a rancid smell during the summer.

“We come home already feeling overheated, because we’ve been working in the fields, and now we come home to an oven,” Calderon said.

Micari was originally working on a project in Linnell and Woodville Camps to install play structures for children when he first heard of the evictions taking place. He was going to attend a Feb. 15 housing authority meeting for these playgrounds, but just a few days before the meeting, he received a call about what was going on in Linnell and Woodville camps. He spoke with Reyna Rodriguez from Proteus, who informed him about the many families she’s been in contact with who have experienced hardships from the camps. At the Feb. 15 meeting, as Micari was finishing up his presentation, Rodriguez walked in alongside multiple families from the Linnell Camp who shared their stories.

“Those people live in constant fear. Even during my campaign, I said to stop the fear mongering. We need to support everybody. We need to work together,” Micari said. “When you use law enforcement, and you use immigration as a retaliatory tool as what has been reported, that just scares them even more.”

Micari said that for the board members, this meeting was the first time that they had even heard about the evictions that were occurring. Many of their “jaws dropped,” according to Micari, as the families shared their stories of the threats and intimidation being used to force them out of their homes. In that meeting, they quickly went into an investigation to figure out what was really going on.


The board then jumped into a special meeting on Feb. 24, where even more families came to speak about their experiences. At the meeting, commissioner Sharon Chavarria said that they plan to go out to the sites to inspect the houses and make any improvements, and will also be making improvements to the septic tank.

“The families that left due to documentation and want to move back, I feel that we need to talk about and vote on them not having to pay first and last months [rent] or a deposit fee to return,” Chavarria said. “Also, giving them three months of not having to pay rent, to kind of offset the expenses that they had when they moved.”

There will also be an inspection on the playgrounds within the communities, which Micari advocated for, to allow for areas that children can play in.

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