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Jeb Bladine: Frustrating search for available house

A local family with five kids is trying anxiously to find housing.

Members have a month to avoid becoming unwilling campers at a relative’s home. The parents still have faith something will surface, but three months of unsuccessful searching takes a toll.

It’s not a matter of money, thanks to jobs and approved housing assistance. They have a recent history as responsible renters who take care of property. They have had to overcome significant challenges to keep a blended family together. All that’s missing from this story is a house.

One potential landlord refused their application, saying he won’t rent to someone in the government Section 8 voucher program. That’s illegal in Oregon, but as you might imagine, the family doesn’t have time or means to dive into a legal battle.

Despite rising above personal problems from years ago, their history returned to bite when they struck out with a property management company that controls a great deal of local rental housing.

The Housing Authority of Yamhill County has a noble mission: “To provide the opportunity for decent, safe, and affordable housing to individuals and families in our community and opportunities to position themselves for success.”

The nonprofit HAYC, which coordinates with the Yamhill County Affordable Housing Corporation and Yamhill Housing Resources Center, serves about 2,000 local families. HAYC  does a great job helping people with rental costs, but they have to find available housing to qualify for agency assistance.

One longtime HAYC case manager sadly described the alarming local shortage of affordable rental housing. That situation extends throughout Oregon, where in 2016 according to a recent report, “only about half of all renter households were able to reasonably afford their rent and utilities.”

Homelessness is a prominent topic in McMinnville, but far more people are burdened by lack of available and/or affordable housing. It’s one thing to sacrifice other life needs in order to pay housing costs; it’s something else to have reasonable resources but no access to acceptable lodging.

It would be great to think someone reading this would respond with a timely opportunity for this family’s housing needs. However, based on my related discussions, the chances of that are slim.

For this family — and many others — the search for affordable housing in McMinnville and elsewhere in Yamhill County represents a significant life challenge. To quote Australian comedian Jim Jefferies’ sign-off line: “I think we can all do better.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.
 

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