By Erin Skaar, Executive Director of CARE (Tillamook County Community Action Resource Enterprises Inc.) and Melissa “Mis” Carlson-Swanson,
Branch Services Manager for Oregon Food Bank Tillamook County Services
Housing, food, and clothing are basic necessities for safety, security, and a decent quality of life. A recent study from the Pew Charitable Trust found that rents are rising much faster than incomes. With more and more working Oregonians forced to spend half of their salary on a place to live, budgets are stretched to the limit. Here in Tillamook County, one out of three renters in our community pays half of their income towards rent, which means many of our neighbors are having to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table. At our organizations, we see this constant battle to decide if our neighbors will be able to keep a roof over their head, or if they’ll feed themselves and their kids.
Our organizations, CARE (Tillamook County Community Action Resource Enterprises Inc.) and Oregon Food Bank Tillamook County Services see this struggle every day. We are on the front lines of our affordable housing crisis, watching our neighbors find themselves without a home, hungry, or both. There are people in our county who work full time and are still struggling to pay for a home, while others drive from further and further away just to find an affordable home. Seniors are living on fixed incomes that aren’t keeping pace with rapidly rising rents. These Oregonians turn to us—their local food pantry and social service agency—for help.
Across our state, our regional food banks and community action agencies are trying to address these problems. We are working every day to help people make ends meet with food assistance, utility bill payments, and child care referrals—and when things get really tough, emergency shelter options. As long as housing costs continue to rise faster than wages, this problem will only get worse. As a community we must do better, or we risk losing what holds us together.
That’s why we are urging you to vote YES on Measure 102. It’s a simple solution that will give communities across our state more options to address this problem. Measure 102 will allow local governments to partner with nonprofits and affordable housing builders to increase affordable housing options with voter-approved bonds. It is a sensible, bipartisan solution to help local communities create more affordable housing for families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities throughout Oregon.
When people have a roof over their head, they’re better able to hold down a job. It’s also the key to staying healthy, doing well in school, and keeping families together. Oregon’s food banks and community action agencies have successfully come to the rescue for many in our state. But without making housing more affordable, it becomes more difficult to help every Oregonian in need. That’s why Measure 102 is so vital.
There is no tax increase associated with Measure 102. It simply lets communities who want to build affordable housing stretch those local bond dollars, and reach more people in need. Together, we can help thousands more people find a home and take care of themselves.
When you’re sitting down to mark your ballot, please vote yes on Measure 102.