Since the wildfire season of 2014, we have seen a persistent community issue return to the center of our neighbors’ struggles: the shortage of affordable housing in the Methow Valley. 92 times in 2015, community members came to Room One looking for support with finding, obtaining, or staying in affordable housing - that is a 23% increase from 2014. This rise in the number of families and friends searching for affordable housing is complicated by a shortage of good housing across the nation, the loss of hundreds of homes to two consecutive years of wildfires, and too many of our community members living in poverty.
Last summer, we committed to taking a 10,000 foot view of this housing crisis and accelerating a community-led solution to this problem. In July of 2015 we hosted a roundtable of 25 community partners to build a shared understanding of the issue. Together, we discussed the primary housing needs in our area, available housing resources, and opportunities to move towards solutions. Notably, our shared vision for moving forward included:
- Identifying leadership, establishing housing exploration strategies, and garnering community involvement
- Growing an advocacy body to address housing needs locally and state-wide
- Deepening our assessment of housing needs and how “affordable housing” is defined in the Methow Valley
We are honored and excited to now be partnering with the Methow Valley Long Term Recovery Group and a consortium of local organizations to develop a Housing Strategy and Action Plan. The project is designed to “serve as a catalyst for developing strategies” that will ensure housing is available and affordable in the Methow Valley. This project begins with an assessment of housing needs and will uniquely challenge our community to set the foundation for a long-term solution to housing our neighbors, employees, and family members. Through this project, we can expect to reach three primary outcomes:
- A professional assessment examining and defining housing issues
- Specific recommendations and strategies to address the identified issues
- An organized community ready to implement the “next steps”
We look forward to exploring immediate and long term solutions to rising housing issues with this team of incredible community partners.
New Housing Fund
Thanks to a new $7500 homelessness prevention grant, this year Room One will be able to assist more people more often with eviction prevention, emergency housing, or the fees of moving into a safer and more stable home. Client advocates are available Monday through Friday to help community members identify and access local and county resources, including low-income housing applications, rentals, and emergency shelter.