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  • Writer's pictureRoxanne Beltz

What issues facing Polk County need to be addressed immediately?

I believe that houselessness and affordable/available housing are two big issues that are intertwined and those keep me up at night.

 

It’s important to acknowledge that these are big issues that need to be addressed piece by piece. Like Desmond Tutu said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

 

I want to acknowledge the fantastic work being done by the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance. I would continue to support their goals of preventing homelessness and swiftly rehousing homeless individuals.


Looking at and evaluating what has been successful in other communities is also a goal. The National Alliance to End Homelessness suggests a variety of solutions including much of what is already happening in our communities. A coordinated approach, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, crisis response, and income opportunity and services.  


I also support the work being done by the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency. This is the organization that just opened David's House - a new, (and first of its kind), transitional home in Monmouth for vulnerable youth.


I have worked to educate myself about these issues and I’ve observed others working on these issues, but I also have some personal experience. Two years ago, this issue became personal to me, and it could easily happen to anyone.


I have a family member who went through a difficult divorce, some medical issues, lost his job, and then his apartment. My husband and I stepped in to help prevent him from becoming homeless, but not everyone is lucky enough to have that kind of support system.


Now despite having a good-paying job, he still is not able to rent anything, because there is nothing available that he could afford, and he doesn’t have great credit. Our solution has been to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in our backyard to provide stable, long-term, affordable housing for him and ultimately someone else who may need it. We are part of the, “Yes, in my backyard movement”.


On a micro level, my family came together to provide a solution. On a macro level, the county and the community must come together to actively support the work being done by the Homeless Alliance and organizations like them.



Affordable and available housing

The cost of housing is a very complex issue, and if there were an easy answer, someone would have come up with it by now. There are steps though that the county can take that would be helpful - like using a smart growth approach to housing, balancing compact development, and transit-oriented development like the project that the city of Dallas is considering at the old mill site.

Another part would be finding long-term funding for the infrastructure for growth, especially in the more rural parts of our county. We should have built the infrastructure for today back in 1990, so we can’t keep kicking the can down the road. We need to plan now for the infrastructure that we will need in 2050. 

I know some of our cities are evaluating their growth plans and making accommodations for building ADUs, townhouses, cottage clusters, and middle/workforce housing. I often say, “We are making more people, but we are not making more land,” so we must be smart about this. We need to be proactive, learn from what others are doing, seek every funding opportunity we can, and get the smartest people into the room to put these plans in place.


Will you help me make a difference for Polk County when it comes to houselessness and affordable housing? Support my campaign today:



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