Westside Families Seek Shelter In Garages

Many westside families are without food or a place to live this holiday season, especially those in the Community of Mendota.

That's where unemployment is close to 40%, and traditionally work in this farm labor community is limited during December and January.

Times are so tough many people are living in garages because that's all they can afford.{} It's no secret that many people tied to agriculture are sleeping in garages in Mendota.

"I can't get into specifics on what locations and so forth.{} It has happened and it's hard.{}{} We do not want to put people out on the street either.{} They need a place to live,"{}said Mendota City Councilman Joe{}Amador.{}{}

{}Mendota does have a code enforcement officer who checks into complaints because of health and safety reasons.

{}Just days before Thanksgiving, idled farm workers received free turkeys to create a thanksgiving meal.{} The generosity came from caring people beyond valley borders concerned about the plight of people who haven't worked steadily for months.

{}"The money we used to purchase the turkeys was sent to us by people from areas around California who had read about the plight of the out of work farm workers,"said Nancy Daniels at the Westside Youth Center.

{}Despite the donations, some people, like Sergio Ballas an unemployed farm worker still get turned away.

"They're asking me for ID and a ticket ok.{} I'm a citizen man. I'm very hungry man,{}I'm hungry," he said.

Ballas was denied because he didn't have proof he's a Mendota resident.

Meantime efforts are underway to get the governor to provide more emergency money to buy food for unemployed valley farm workers.

Dana Wilkie of the Community Food Bank says a decision could come in early December.