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Kids need stability of affordable home

Kids need a safe and stable place to call home. They need a safe place to sleep at night, and a place to play and do their homework.

For their parents, working hard should mean they can afford to live in their community and still afford other basic necessities, like food and medicine. But in communities throughout Oregon — and especially here in Jackson County — rent and housing costs have gone up much faster than wages and people and families are struggling to make ends meet. Some are facing homelessness for the first time in their lives.

For too many of our neighbors, the lack of affordable places to rent in our community has meant families facing insecurity, instability and homelessness. We know that young children thrive with stability, security and routine. When their environment is safe, kids have the ability to learn and explore, and develop needed skills. As a parent and affordable housing advocate I see every day the negative impacts on families in our community.

Our housing crisis also affects how often kids change schools and classrooms. When kids and their families have access to safe, stable and affordable housing, teachers and students can bond, kids can make friends, and play and learn, instead of worrying about where their family will sleep at night.

The good news is that our community has and will continue to come together to provide safe and stable homes to our neighbors and families who need help. While we have a lot more work to do, here in Jackson County, we have a strong affordable housing provider in the Housing Authority of Jackson County. Our community housing providers partner with organizations in the community, and build, own, and operate affordable housing to be a permanent part of our infrastructure.

This fall, we have a chance to help add another tool to the toolbox for our community to address our housing crisis. Ballot Measure 102, which was referred to voters by the Legislature, will help communities across Oregon to come together to solve problems, and to allow community partnerships to be more effective.

Measure 102 is a small change to our constitution that will allow local communities to respond to the housing crisis.

For years, communities across Oregon have used general obligation bonds to build critical infrastructure such as roads and bridges and courthouses. Voters in some communities have also approved bonds to build affordable housing. The Oregon Constitution bans using those bonds to join with nonprofit partners and local businesses to build housing, and limits the use of other funds. Measure 102 would lift that ban, only for affordable housing, and allow us to stretch bond dollars further by using them together with other state or federal funds.

Voters still have the ultimate say in approving bonds for affordable housing — this measure won’t change that. It just means that for communities that want to use them in the future, government can work with partners who have years of experience doing this work, like our public housing authority and other nonprofit housing provider organizations.

This is an important tool that will help communities across our state as we work together to address our housing crisis. I’m asking you to join me in voting yes on Measure 102.

Rich Rohde lives in Ashland.

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