Reed: A good start for more affordable housing
The issues facing this country in the form of economic hardship caused for all people by the pandemic need to be addressed. However, we also have to look at other areas that perpetuate diminished opportunity. Security and access to affordable housing is one of those areas. Access to stable housing has been shown to help families find better health, educational opportunities, financial freedom, stability and security; yet the cost to rent or purchase housing is becoming increasingly less affordable to millions of people.
A shortage of affordable housing is a national problem and a Columbia County problem. A 2017 study found that there was a need for 1,900 more housing units in Columbia County affordable to households making less than $25,000 annually. The shortage of affordable housing has been caused in part by the lack of multifamily housing, as the study found 87% of housing within the county was single-family detached homes.
We need more affordable housing in our community which is why I am so happy to share with you about the new, 238-unit affordable housing development that is set to be constructed in St. Helens. All units will be affordable for families at or below 60% of the area median income. I was especially happy to read that there will be over 80 senior housing units included in the project as well. The number of persons 65 years of age and older is growing dramatically. For those who have only small pensions, social security and a few assets, safe and secure housing can be difficult to find. This development will help meet that need in Columbia County and will offer resident services programming in art, wellness and other areas essential to senior citizens.
This project will be an asset to the entire community. Service Providers such as Columbia County Mental Health, the Columbia County Food Bank, Community Action Team, St. Helens Senior Center, EnGage and others are critical services that can help Columbia County residents overcome challenges and increase opportunity.
Again, these are times that challenge us as a society to do better and we can and will do better across so many different fronts. Safe and secure housing has been shown time and time again to be integral to a family's well-being along with their financial future. We must work to access affordable housing and support projects and policies that will increase access to housing for all residents. For Columbia County, this new project is a good start.
Nina Reed, Board Chair Northwest Oregon Housing Authority
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