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Original Research

Perceptions of housing conditions among migrant farmworkers and their families: implications for health, safety and social policy

Submitted: 29 March 2014
Revised: 19 August 2014
Accepted: 19 August 2014
Published: 13 February 2015

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Author(s) : Keim-Malpass J, Spears Johnson CR, Quandt SA, Arcury TA.

Jessica Keim-MalpassChaya Spears JohnsonSara QuandtThomas Arcury

Citation: Keim-Malpass J, Spears Johnson CR, Quandt SA, Arcury TA.  Perceptions of housing conditions among migrant farmworkers and their families: implications for health, safety and social policy. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3076. Available: (Accessed 21 October 2017)


Introduction:  In the USA, migrant farmworkers are a vulnerable group due to their low socioeconomic status, risk of occupational exposures and injury, lack of social mobility, lack of adequate access to health services and dependency on employer for provided housing. Previous reports have documented migrant farmworker housing conditions to be variable, but poor overall. This paper explores the perceptions of housing conditions among migrant farmworkers in rural North Carolina, and develops an understanding of potential impacts of their housing on health and safety.
Methods:  This study used qualitative descriptive data and directed content analysis to analyse semi-structured interviews and photographs that were data elements of a larger community-based participatory research study designed to document housing quality and health among North Carolina farmworkers.
Results:  Many of the study participants described poor housing conditions that were reflected in the photographic analysis of the houses and camps. Specific problems described by the participants include exposure to pesticides, safety issues, pests, water supply and air quality, temperature and moisture.
Conclusions:  This study describes migrant farmworkers’ perceptions of housing quality and numerous potential impacts on health and safety. Research, social policy and practice-based implications derived from this research could serve to improve the health status of these individuals and their families. This study suggests there is much room for sustained advocacy and action, given that many of the farmworkers’ descriptions and photographs depicted housing conditions below accepted standards of living. Access to adequate and safe employer-provided housing for migrant farmworkers should be considered a basic human right.

Key words: agriculture, health, housing, migrant farmworkers, pesticides, poverty, safety.

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