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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray addressed members of the Washington State Farmworker Housing Trust Board as they met in Leavenworth, Washington. Murray, who spoke to the group by phone, commended them for making progress that would not have been possible a decade ago.



After Murray's remarks, the group reached an agreement on grower-sponsored housing. This is the first time an agreement has been reached by growers, advocates, housing providers and other community stakeholders on this previously contentious issue.



"As a board, you've helped our state move past a decade of conflict. You created new relationships based on trust, and you created new ways to work together. And I'm really proud of what you've done like completing the needs assessment, securing funding and implementing the survey," Murray said. "I'm following your work, and I’m ready to work with you as we move this issue into the next phase of implementation."



In August 2005, many board members joined Senator Murray in Buena, Washington. See details, photos and audio

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Senator Murray's comments on April 25, 2006 to the Farmworker Housing Board follow:



Thank you Mario [Villanueva] and congratulations on becoming the new chair.



I wanted to take a few minutes during your retreat to thank you all for your work over the years and to let you know that I'm looking forward to hearing about the agreements you reach today.



I know he's not there today, but I do want to thank Juan Aguilar for his service as Chair. He's been a great friend and partner on this and other issues.



Mario, you've worked so hard on these issues over the years, and I'm excited about your leadership and your ability to help move the board to the next level of its mission.



As a person who believes deeply in the work of the Trust, I want to thank each of you for your commitment to farmworker housing and for investing your time and talent in this effort.



I know that during this retreat you will be working on some of the most contentious issues. And that's what leaders do. I remember when I first started working on this issue in the late 1990’s, this retreat would not have been possible. There is no way we could have gotten everyone to sit down together and have a productive discussion. The fights were so bad in Olympia that elected officials did not want one side to know that they had met with the other side.



As a board, you've helped our state move past a decade of conflict. You created new relationships based on trust, and you created new ways to work together. And I'm really proud of what you've done like completing the needs assessment, securing funding and implementing the survey.



When I look at your work – I see the big picture. You have moved this issue further along than anyone else in our State’s history. You've built strong coalitions. You've brought new partners to the table, and you've made strong commitments to work together to address the farmworker housing shortage.



The task is tough, but the way is clear if you can work together on creative solutions that meet the needs of all the stakeholders. I have tremendous confidence in your ability to work together and to make progress just as you have over the years.



I'm following your work, and I’m ready to work with you as we move this issue into the next phase of implementation. So thank you for your hard work and leadership. I'm excited about the progress you're making and I’m eager to hear about the agreements and plans you put together today. I'm ready to help with the next phase of this important work.