CIRS Blog about Rural California

Ilene Jacobs

Ilene Jacobs

CRLA serves low-income individuals residing in over 22 California counties. As rural areas and small cities of California continue to change, so does our outreach and service to diverse communities. Today, CRLA serves a wide array of clients, while maintaining specialized programs that focus on services for farmworker populations. CRLA clients also include individuals with disabilities, immigrant populations, school children, lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender populations, seniors and individuals with limited English proficiency.

California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) created Rural Justice Forums in response to a need for further evidence and literature to support many of the issues CRLA staff witness in the field every day. CRLA attorney, Ilene Jacobs, Director of Litigation, Advocacy and Training, saw a lack of research and analysis of an underlying problem demonstrated by her cases:  that living in some of the worst housing conditions in the United States has a severe impact on the physical and mental health of California farmworkers.

“Farmworkers and their families in rural California and throughout this country often are forced to live in the most despicable and challenging conditions. They sleep in onion fields, live in caves dug into canyons bathe in irrigation ditches, huddle under tarps or find refuge in cars, tool sheds, barns and in river banks, face rent gouging for substandard and dangerous housing units, rent rooms, in dilapidated old motels, face housing discrimination because of who they are, what they look like or they language they speak, and suffer retaliatory eviction and firing should they have the temerity to complain about such third world conditions in the richest nation in the world.”

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