Pasco provides more rooms to seasonal workers

PASCO — More housing for seasonal workers should be ready in Pasco for the start of the asparagus harvest this spring, officials said.

Sea Mar Farmworker and Community Housing Development plans to open La Posada to offer housing for seasonal and migrant farmworkers in Pasco.

Sea Mar has operated the Sea Mar Motel, at 627 W. Lewis St., now called La Posada East, for more than five years, said Michael Leong, Sea Mar vice president of corporate and legal affairs.

The motel had 36 rooms, but it has been undergoing remodeling to make it handicap accessible and improve the building’s appearance, he said.

Sea Mar is also having La Posada West, formerly the Travel Inn, at 725 W. Lewis St., remodeled to offer more housing units.

The building has been gutted, Leong said. He expects La Posada West to be ready in March or early April.

Typically, asparagus field workers arrive in March.

Originally, Sea Mar estimated the project would provide 66 rooms.

Now, Leong said he thinks the number will be closer to 76.

The Travel Inn had been vacant for some time, said Marty Miller, executive director of the Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing, a Yakima-based nonprofit that acted as a developer for the Sea Mar project.

“For a long time the buildings were just sitting there and falling further into disrepair,” he said.

The process to open La Posada started about seven years ago, Miller said.

“We are making good progress,” he said.

Once the project is finished, there will still be a need for more migrant farm worker housing in the Tri-Cities, Leong said. “The labor need is here,” he said. “The housing need is here.”

Sea Mar hopes to offer housing to farm workers and their families who are in the area for the asparagus, cherry and apple harvests, he said.

Duiring the course of a year, thousands of farm workers will be in the area, Miller said.

The agricultural season stretches from early spring through late fall, creating a demand for housing for them.