2003: Building year for Housing for People

By picking up hammers, wrenches, and shovels during 2003, eight Hood River families will earn the “sweat equity” needed to live in affordable homes.

Eight more families will follow suit in 2004, all thanks to a $300,000 grant awarded to Hood River’s Housing For People, Inc. (HOPE) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development department.

The technical assistance grant will enable HOPE to handle administrative costs needed to oversee the construction of 16 low-income homes in Odell.

“We’ve been striving to do this for the last 13 years,” said Richard Sassara, executive director of HOPE. “The difficulty was finding property in Hood River, which is hard to do for low-income housing.”

The 25-lot Anna Acres subdivision is nearly ready for construction, which should begin around Jan. 13. Families will provide 65 percent of the labor, or 35 hours each week, creating “sweat equity” that will be used as their down payments. Each family works on eight homes at once, and no one moves in until all residences are complete.

“Most of the work is labor intensive — roofing, framing, and flooring,” said Sassara. “They won’t be doing finished plumbing or things like that.”

HOPE is turning to local subcontractors for the specialized labor.

“All of the subcontractors have really sharpened their pencils to make this cheaper,” said Sassara. “I can’t say enough about our local subcontractors. There’s been a genuine outpouring.”

Sassara emphasized that the Anna Acres subdivision will not solve Hood River’s housing situation.

“We want to focus on apartment housing, too,” said Sassara. “We have over 100 families on our waiting list. People need to be aware that we still need affordable housing in Hood River.”

For more information about HOPE and its programs, visit: community.gorge.net/hope

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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