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nine-year-old girl in response to a subcommittee member’s question. “I don’t like it here because we have rats in our house and I’m afraid they’ll bite me when I’m asleep.” Her “house,” an oblong tin-covered barrack housing nearly two dozen Mexican-American farmworkers, had no running water or heat. A single stained mattress lay on the floor of one of the rooms, and a broken chair was placed carefully in a corner: Outside, several men bathed themselves under a water spigot located in a dirty shed. They huddled together and stared quizzically at the congressman and his entourage as they made their way through camp. Gonzalez was visibly affected when a woman he recognized from Texas pleaded for his help. “You need to do something,” she told In Maryland, Henry Gonzalez said he saw housing he thought existed only in Third World countries, typically a tin shed over a concrete pad with communal bathrooms and water unfit for human consumption even after boiling. He found similar conditions, Jere Longman of the Dallas Times Herald reports, in the Texas Panhandle. Northeast of Dimmitt, the congressman and members of his staff came upon a row of tarpaper and chicken-wire sheds with carpets rotting on the floor and mattresses turned inside out and the stuffings scattered about. There was no heat, no place to cook, and doors were either missing or broken. The only toilet facilities were in a rickety wooden shack. He found more of the same in privately owned labor camps in and around Hereford. A cinder-block building on the outskirts of town was, until recently, a camp owned by the E.C. Reineauer packing plant. Until it was shut down for health reasons, as many as ten persons lived in the 12-by-15 foot cubicles, Ralph Quinones, a state health inspector, told reporter Longman. Quinones said the place was shut down when the packing plant refused to apply for a permit to house migrant workers and failed to comply with state health standards. Gonzalez believes the farmworker housing problem is the result of the bind migrant workers have always found themselves in having to take whatever is available because of low wages and a host of other disadvantages growers him in Spanish. “People want to work, but they need help. These conditions are not good.” She said that the early fall coolness had made living difficult in the metal barracks, especially at night. “May God bless you and help you to help us,” she called out to the congressman as the group departed. Some 30 miles down the road they found the next camp, hidden from view by acres of corn and bean fields. The housing consisted mainly of long, windowless buildings divided into a series of rooms often no larger than an averagesized bedroom, with each room housing two to six workers. “I can’t understand why the federal agencies can’t do something about this problem,” Gonzalez said. This camp housed mostly Haitian who argue they can’t afford to fix up the housing, and the federal government, particularly the Farmers Home Adminisrequirements are geared to housing that provides 12-month occupancy, and growers -feel these standards are too stringent, Longman reported, particularly for housing occupied four to six months a year. The growers also told Gonzalez that loan and grant applications are routinely held up for more than a year without a resolution, and they complained about nebulous guidelines for such things as labor camp management plans and rental increases. run the migrant farmworker programs,” Gerry McMurray, a housing subcommittee staff member told Longman. “They don’t know how to deal with housing that isn’t occupied year-round. And they don’t know how to deal with the legal aid people. They’re deathly afraid of being hauled into court.” Gonzalez did find a few bright spots during his Panhandle tour, including a clean, well-kept public housing project in Littlefield, for example. He also noted the efforts of TRLA. Since opening up three years ago, it has won lawsuits to stop arbitrary eviction of tenants and the practice of block-leasing, where private growers took control of the Castro County Housing Authority in Dimmitt and forced out or refused to rent to tenants who would not work for certain employers. farmworkers brought in to harvest cucumbers. Few of the workers spoke English, relying instead on their native Creole, a mixture of 17thand 18th-century French and African tribal tongues. Local growers and social service workers note that the influx of Haitian workers is a relatively new phenomenon that has resulted in the displacement of workers who had migrated from southern Texas. “The Haitians are finding themselves in the same position that the Mexican-Americans were in several years ago,” said a farm labor activist familiar with the Eastern Shore. “They can’t speak the language, they are paid miserable wages, and the growers threaten to deport them if they complain.” Around the camp, piles of garbage gathered flies and spread a stench through the late summer air. Haitian women, several wearing turbans around their heads, washed clothes in an outdoor sink while a large group of men, most in their twenties, took turns at a quick-paced game of .dominoes. They scarcely noticed the departure of their visitors. Later that day the congressman and his staff assembled in the auditorium of a local community college to conduct a special hearing on the area’s farm labor housing. Nine ‘hours of traveling dusty country roads, of viewing poverty in its rawest form, of coming into the lives of people surviving by a mere thread, had all but numbed his staff into silence. They took notes as the witnesses appearing before the make-shift committee. Farmworkers and growers alike implored the congressman to somehow bring an end to the shame and degradation that affected each of their lives. For his part, Gonzalez told them of the national commission on farm labor housing he envisioned, of a national study on the issue, of his commitment and concern. But mostly he listened. “The flowers make it beautiful,” Luisa Morena, 31, was saying to the congressman in a voice verging on a whisper. Her face, a reflection of years of pain, perserverance, and hard work, permitted a small smile when she recalled the memory. “I always like going back to my home in Texas because there we have flowers, there we have a home. Here, there are no flowers.” The congressman, his staff, and a single reporter reached the motel to pick up their luggage sometime after midnight. The drive back to Washington would take a little over two hours. Someone asked Gonzalez his feeling about the day. He paused for a long time. “Man’s inhumanity to man,” he finally said, “knows no bounds.” Gonzalez in Texas 8 NOVEMBER 20, 1981