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John Mirsky

Housing Illness in a PA Mushroom Town



John Mirsky ’23



Faculty Mentor(s):

David Rojas, Anthropology and Latin American Studies

Funding Source:

Douglas K. Candland Undergraduate Research Grant, Program for Undergraduate Research


The relatively small PA town of Kennett Square produces half of the fresh mushrooms for the entire United States. To accomplish this feat, the community relies predominantly on a Latinx immigrant workforce. In order to accommodate this labor source, the local government produced housing in the 1960s. Yet, due to health concerns surrounding abhorrent conditions, the government-provided establishments were discontinued by law in the 1980s. 40 years later, this project investigates how non-government organizational workers in Kennett Square and the surrounding region perceive the current relationship between housing and health outcomes among Latinx community members under coronavirus conditions. The project consists of 21 semi-structured interviews with high and mid-level workers at non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that specialize in issues of immigrant health and housing.
Through transcribing and coding the interviews with the software Atlas.ti, data revealed that my interlocutors believe that the Latinx population in Kennett Square suffers housing-related health outcomes due to low educational levels, relatively low income, and both explicit and structural racist elements. These findings approach a more thorough understanding of housing and health-related issues among the Latinx population in Kennett Square and highlight future areas of scholarship surrounding the region.


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