OP/ED: Response to the outreach efforts to business owners for the housing crisis

By LaNicia Duke
On the subject of housing: it’s great the housing commission is doing outreach.* (See below for link to Tillamook County Housing Commission survey for business owners.)
I have a couple of observations from a DEI lens. While I appreciate asking business owners (who are probably also home owners) about the effects the housing crisis has on their business, I hope to see outreach being done to the people who keep our businesses open. Our local labor force are the folks who are experiencing the most urgent effects of wanting to live in Tillamook county while having to work maybe one, but often two, three or even four jobs to live here. While being able to do so is a great feat, we should consider the cost it takes on their physical/mental health, their family unit and still the lack of guarantee for stable affordable (1/3rd of whatever salary they earn) housing.

Sure the business owners have more visibility because every time we walk into their establishment we see the signs of them struggling, asking for help and our patience. Who is considering the folks who are there, showing up everyday, even when they are still struggling to keep a roof over their heads or provide food for their families. Asking their bosses to share their story before hearing from the community who needs their voices to be heard most seems backwards.
I often feel these conversations are a day late and a dollar short, especially when there are houses less than 1500 square feet being sold for at least $1,000,000 (I’ve identified two listings recently in Manzanita). Or are we becoming a county who thinks anyone can work in our community but not everyone can live here? How would you feel if you are a housecleaner or server/bartender in Manzanita or Pacific City but know living in these towns is not an option?
There are some who will contribute our lack of available workforce on mandatory vaccinations, which is too recent a problem for the effects on our housing crisis that have been years or even decades in the making.
Making housing decisions for those struggling to afford housing while living comfortably in your own home doesn’t give credibility to those we are looking to serve or considering our intentions to truly provide solutions. This isn’t a call to judgment, but as we continue in our call to action to look for credible and fruitful solutions, I hope we find those answers in the ones who really need our help. If business owners can benefit from us helping the most vulnerable, then maybe capitalism isn’t dying after all.

*Tillamook County Housing Commission Survey – https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/tillamook-county-housing-commission-survey-for-businesses-please-respond-by-oct-15/
If you would like to share your view, story, housing situation, please send to Housing Commission Email: TillamookCoHousingCommission@gmail.com