Affordable housing project celebrated in St. Helens
A celebration to recognize those involved with helping establish a 16-unit affordable housing apartment complex in St. Helens was hosted last week.
On Friday, July 19, a grand opening ceremony was held at the 18th Street Development, a recently completed affordable housing apartment complex — already fully occupied — as a way to honor those involved that made the project possible.
A crowd of about 50 people gathered at the site including a number of elected officials, government employees, Community Action Team employees, members of Columbia County Self Help Inc., builders, architects, individuals involved with financing the project, and others.
The project was made possible through a number of groups working together, like CAT and Self Help, and was funded through various state grants and a loan from Wauna Credit Union.
During the grand opening event, Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, spoke about how these units will benefit the county's current and future residents.
"The goal is a home for every Oregonian. So thank you all. The gift of these units will endure for the residents who live here and have a safe, secure foundation on which to build their families' economic security," Johnson said. "It all starts with a roof over every head and everyone here made that a reality."
Val Valfre, chair of the Oregon Housing Stability Council, also attended and noted how the project helps advance statewide goals to address the housing crisis.
"I'm particularly excited that opening these doors will advance a number of state housing plan goals," Valfre said.
He said the project benefits the entire community.
"We know that Columbia County, the city of St. Helens and future residents of 18th Street Development will all benefit from the quality homes that were created here," Valfre said.
Many officials, including U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, at the Friday ceremony highlighted the complexity of building affordable housing and how it will take many entities working collaboratively to make such projects possible.
"Changing the course of this crisis is going to take all of us working together and that's what we are celebrating here today, everyone stepping up," Bonamici said. "So I'm so thrilled to be here and this shows what can be possible when we have great partners."
A recent study completed by CAT indicates the county is in need of 1,900 affordable housing units, Dan Brown, executive director for CAT, explained.
"Sixteen units doesn't sound like much when we need 1,900 in Columbia County, but it's a start and we want to thank everyone for their part in it," Brown said Friday afternoon.
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