By Boyd C. Allen | Original Article
May 25, 2018

Local stakeholders raised $31,500 needed to begin a Curry County Housing Study in less than five minutes at a recent meeting.

Georgia Nowlin of AllCare pledged $15,000 and AdvanceHealth Director Lisa Hendricks matched those funds up to $15,000.

Curry Homeless Coalition Director Beth Barker-Hidalgo pledged the last $1,500 needed to get the project moving and said Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCCA) would also give $1,000.

Representatives of NeighborWorks Umpqua (NWU) supported the measure as well.

NWU’s Michelle Martin pledged $500 and was seeking a matching commitment from their property management company.

Prior to the funding, United Way of Southwestern Oregon Director Marcia Hart had documented a decline in housing construction and workforce participation in Curry County along with a population increase and an increase in the percentage of college-educated residents.

These trends, according to Hart, presented a parting of normal cause and effect and pointed to a housing crisis.

“These are divergent trends in desperate sectors,” she said.

Hart touted the Coos County Housing Study by CZB LLC as the best type of analysis for current housing and economic trends and their historical sources. She proposed a similar study for Curry County and estimated costs at $35,000.

CZB, an urban planning and community development firm, provided a quality product for Coos County, Hart said. The study addresses housing availability and economic development.

The Coos County Housing Study, available online, is a 35 page document presenting evidence of current housing and economic trends, reasons for these trends and an analysis of past and future problems including proposed solutions.

United Way would negotiate and manage the contract and collect the money for the Curry project, according to Hart.

The total cost will run $55,500 she said, including $35,000 for the study, $12,500 for a ground organizer, $5,000 for community outreach and $3,000 for coordinating the study with the United Way.

Hidalgo noted the Curry Realtors Board would support the plan and said she had already contacted member Karen Kennedy.

“I will also contact Rogue Credit Union and Umpqua Bank,” she added.

Hart and Nowlin suggested the group seek support from Rotary Clubs as well.

The agreed to contact county employers about support for workforce housing including Curry Health Network, South Coast Lumber, the U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Corrections.

The group then discussed the proper attributes and credentials for the project liaison and mentioned the contact person needs to know many people in the county and and have the proper connections and available time.

“I would like to be that person,” Hidalgo said. “I have already arranged for time to do this with my employer.”

The group appointed Hidalgo as their community liaison or contact person.

Nowlin said,” But I don’t want another study on the shelf. This is just one project, but it needs to lead to a lot of projects.”

The report will provide goals, Hart said. And it will offer example projects and suggested locations.

The project will be broken into three phases. Phase one would entail data collection and quality analysis and build on the Brookings Housing Needs Assessment, according to Hart..

The Brookings Housing Needs Assessment is a 60-page document completed by the South Coast Development Council October 2017. The report combines extensive data with analysis of population, economic and housing trends.

In phase two CZB would be gauging stakeholder involvement and talking directly with real estate agents, agency staff, politicians, residents and others in interviews designed to gather facts and define the opinions of the community.

Hart said, the goal in phase two is to understand the relationships between housing availability and economic development in Curry County and to define the community’s understanding of those issues from multiple perspectives.

In phase three, probably in late August or early September, the report would be completed and the Curry Housing task force would present the findings to the public and work to implement solutions based on the report.

The Coos County Housing study be found online here.