Grants improve local workers’ housing

April 23, 2011

Most people know that finding affordable housing in Hood River is a challenge. Local orchardists who depend on farm labor often must offer housing to secure enough workers for their crops.

Yet, even with some orchard housing opportunities, many workers still struggle to find and afford safe, adequate housing for themselves and their families.

The county's only official farmworker housing project, Wy'east Villas, located on the Heights behind Rosauers, has been a part of the solution since its original construction in the early 1990s.

Because of the shortage of housing in Hood River, notes Columbia Cascade Housing Corp. Executive Director Ruby Mason, there are residents who have been at the county apartments since they first opened.

For many of those longtime residents and those on the waiting lists, good news is on now the horizon. Wy'east Villas apartment complex is about to receive a facelift.

The Oregon State Housing Council approved funding for the housing project April 15.

Columbia Cascade Housing Corp. acquired a grant reservation of $500,000 in Trust Fund monies and $440,072 of Housing Preservation Funds for the acquisition and rehabilitation of Wy'east Vista Apartments, which serve farmworker families.

"We are proud to assist the preservation of affordable housing for Oregon's agricultural community," said Oregon Housing and Community Services Acting Director Rick Crager. "With these funds, Oregon proves its commitment to improving farmworker housing quality and availability.

"We get very little turnover," said Mason. "There is no place for people to go, so they stay. The plan is to have more homeownership education opportunities for people to move up and out."

Wy'east is the only dedicated farm labor project in Hood River, with 12 of the 25 units receiving project-based rental assistance.

The Oregon State Housing Council funds will be used to rehabilitate the units and preserve affordability for at least 20 years.

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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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