By: Karen Rockwell, Executive Director of the Benton Habitat for Humanity
We can all see that the Oregon we know and love has changed dramatically in the last few years. We are globally recognized for our natural beauty and exceptional quality of life, but as more people move here for our robust job market and strong communities, the pressure on our housing stock has led to a full-blown affordability crisis.
Benton Habitat for Humanity, and Habitat affiliates all over the state, work toward an Oregon where everyone has a decent place to live. We work toward that vision by building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing. In this time of housing insecurity, we’re seeing many here in Benton and Linn Counties struggling to pay for many basic necessities, including housing.
Every day, families in our community are unable to keep a proper roof over their head. The cycle of rent increases and lack of available affordable housing leave families in a constant state of stress, fear, and anxiety. We know that having an affordable place to call home frees families from the stress and anxiety, and fosters the skill and confidence they need to invest in themselves and in our communities.
Measure 102 will help local communities build more homes for people who need them. By allowing local governments to partner with organizations like ours, Measure 102 will help stretch local housing bond dollars further, building more permanently affordable homes. Plus, at Benton Habitat for Humanity, we’re experts at building this type of housing, and we want local governments to benefit from everything we know.
Measure 102 will help us serve our community members who continue to be most impacted by rising housing costs: veterans, seniors on fixed incomes, and families facing homelessness. It will also help create housing for nurses, teachers, and first responders who make up the backbone of our workforce.
For those working minimum wage, our housing problem has reached crisis levels. One out of every four renters in Benton and Linn County are paying more than 50% of their income in rent, and a minimum wage renter would need to work 66 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, to afford a two bedroom apartment. We believe that if people are working hard at a full-time, 40 hour a week job, they should be able to find a decent and affordable place to live. And they should be able to feed and clothe themselves and their families, and keep the lights on.
Cities and counties throughout Oregon are considering ways to help address our statewide affordable housing emergency. When we can find ways to work smarter and stretch dollars further, we should take them. Measure 102 will enable our local communities who have housing bond funds to create even more safe and permanent affordable housing during this time of need. And will do so without increasing taxes.
Please join all of us at Benton Habitat for Humanity in voting YES on Measure 102.
Karen Rockwell is the Executive Director of the Benton Habitat for Humanity.