When we refer to tents, we're talking about the tents that were developed to specific guidelines and approved by the department under alternative structures (WAC 246-359-600), and Temporary Worker Housing Construction Standard (Chapter 246-359 WAC).
The department-approved tents are only allowed by WAC for cherry harvest – they may be used to house workers of the cherry harvest and their accompanied family members. There is an exception — it's prohibited to use tents to house workers brought in by the H-2A Program, RCW 70.114A.110(2).
Tents are not approved in WAC for housing workers of other crops. Department-approved tents may be used for cherry harvest workers for up to one week before through one week after the cherry harvest that they work in begins and ends.
History of Tents
The use of approved tents evolved from a multi-agency and organization effort to address the unique challenges of housing cherry harvest workers. The effort influenced the cherry harvest rules to be written with few reduced standards and an allowance of approved tent use.
Resource for Tents
At this time, the tents provided by the Department of Commerce through the Washington Growers League's Rent-a-Tent Program, are the only tents in Washington that are approved for use as migrant farmworker housing. The tent rental program works with cherry orchardists and state migrant farmworker housing site operators.
The operators provide central eating, bathing, and toilet facilities and cement tent pads/floors. The program schedules with the site operators to set up the tents shortly before their cherry harvest begins. The tent program maintains the tents throughout harvest, takes the tents down shortly after harvest, and cleans, repairs and stores the tents for the off-season.
The purpose of the Rent-a-Tent Program is to provide adequate housing for the challenging cherry harvest to growers and communities unable to otherwise provide housing to migrant farmworkers feasibly.
For information about cost and specifics, contact the Washington Growers League.