Olathe OKs housing of immigrants | AspenTimes.com

Olathe OKs housing of immigrants

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

OLATHE, Colo. ” The Olathe town trustees have agreed to allow temporary housing in the town’s industrial district for seasonal farmworkers who come to the U.S. on agricultural visas.

The trustees approved the measure this week after a farmer said it would help relieve a labor shortage.

David Harold, whose father owns the Tuxedo Corn Co. of Olathe, said the ordinance will allow the company to bring in more workers on agriculture visas. He said the visa program requires the housing to inspected by state labor officials before the workers can be brought in.

Harold said the labor shortage has become so bad that the company has considered reducing the acres it plants so it wouldn’t need as many harvest crews.

“The worst part of it is, a guy is trying to do it legal and it doesn’t get easier ” it’s harder,” he said.

Harold said the farm hasn’t decided what form the housing will take but is considering using Federal Emergency Management Agency units used for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Those units were designed to meet federal standards, he said.

Olathe has a 72-bed dormitory for farmworkers, but only U.S. citizens or permanent residents may live there, and most of the area’s temporary workers now come from Mexico.

The vote was 5-2, with Mayor Woody Palmer and Trustee Linda Steele voting no.

Steele said she was concerned the ordinance would allow anyone in the industrial district to set up housing without the town’s permission. Town attorney Susan Baker said the ordinance makes a town permit mandatory.

Palmer did not immediately return a call.

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