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Success Stories

Uniting Farm Worker Families in Calistoga

Sarah Marquart
Solar panels and drought-tolerant landscaping at Calistoga Family Apartments, a farm labor housing camp in Calistoga, Calif.

A good home can bring people together in more ways than one. That’s what happened for the Sibbu family, when they moved into Corporation for Better Housing’s brand new Calistoga Family Apartments.

Albert Sibbu worked for the same farm in Napa Valley for 15 years and lived in a farm labor camp for men while he saved enough money to gain residency for his wife and two sons in the Philippines. When his family finally arrived, they were shocked at the cost of housing—they couldn’t afford to live together, even reunited in the same country. Albert went back to the farm worker camp. His family moved in with his sister in Santa Rosa.

Calistoga Family Apartments gave Albert and his wife and kids a new chance. The farm labor housing development is tailored for the men and women who work Napa Valley’s fields and their families. Rental assistance is also available to lower tenant’s monthly costs, ensuring their homes remain affordable. When the Sibbu’s were approved for an apartment, they cried tears of joy. They could afford the rent. Most importantly, they could be together.

Projects like these make one simple dream possible: to let families be families.  Jose and Maria Vega were sleeping on the floor in their son’s house, after Jose retired from farm labor work due to disability and his wife fell ill. The Jamarillo family lost everything when their house burned to the ground from an electrical fire. Andres Trujillo, like Albert Sibbu, lived in a worker camp for three years, apart from his wife and child. Now all of these families have a safe, decent place to live.

This development is doing more than giving families a place to call home; it’s making a difference in the environment, too. Designed to meet LEED Platinum standards, and one of the few Zero Net Energy farm labor housing complexes in the nation, Calistoga Family Apartments generates all its own energy through solar panels. This results in utility bills averaging around five dollars a month for families living there, and the peace of mind they won’t have to decide between paying their bills and feeding their families. Water savings are equally important in drought-stricken California, and these apartments received WaterSense certification for their efforts including use of low-flow fixtures and drought-tolerant landscaping.  With all these features comes a learning curve, so the property offers tenants ongoing education programs to help them take full advantage of the savings.

Some of the most vocal proponents of the property are also some of its youngest.  The children may not agree on their favorite aspect - celebrating birthdays at the playground, playing kick ball with friends, or having their own room – but they’re unanimous in their joy. Many also participate in Kids Club, the on-site after-school program that provides help with homework, computer access, nutritious meals and group activities. Kids Club is a blessing for many of the parents, too who may work long or odd hours, or who do not speak English and have trouble helping with homework.

In Calistoga Family Apartments, farm workers and their families have a place to call home and loved ones to welcome them there, every day. 

Obligation Amount:
$3 million
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District: