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Cultivating Equitable Development: Clallam County’s Affordable Housing Policies

Policy and Advocacy
Cultivating Equitable Development: Clallam County’s Affordable Housing Policies

Discovering the Heart of the Housing Crisis

As I strolled through the streets of Clallam County, I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between the gleaming new condos and the weathered, dilapidated homes that dotted the landscape. It was a tale of two cities – one where luxury reigned supreme, and the other where families struggled to find a roof over their heads. This was the heart of the affordable housing crisis, and I was determined to unravel its complexities.

My journey began with a visit to the United Way of Clallam County, where I learned that the problem wasn’t just about the lack of affordable housing units. It was a multi-faceted issue that encompassed everything from zoning laws to economic disparities. The statistics were staggering – in Clallam and Jefferson Counties, a significant portion of the population was living in poverty or paycheck-to-paycheck, with many earning less than the cost of basic necessities.

As I delved deeper, I discovered that the city of Port Angeles had taken bold steps to address this crisis. Through a suite of policies and programs, they were working tirelessly to overcome the barriers and foster more diverse and accessible housing development. From the Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program to the Permit-Ready Plans Program, the city was leaving no stone unturned in its quest to create a more equitable future.

Habitat for Humanity’s Groundbreaking Efforts

But the story didn’t end there. Clallam County was also home to another remarkable organization – Habitat for Humanity. Led by the tireless Colleen Robinson, this non-profit was raising funds to build homes for local families, a true testament to their unwavering commitment to the community.

Their Brownfield Road Project in Sequim, for instance, was poised to create 50 affordable homes, with funding partners ranging from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to the First Federal Foundation and federal funding from the office of Derek Kilmer. It was a collaborative effort that showcased the power of community partnerships in tackling the housing crisis.

Unlocking the Doors to Permanent Supportive Housing

Yet, the challenges faced by Clallam County were not limited to affordable housing alone. The region also grappled with the pressing issue of homelessness, and one organization had stepped up to the plate – Peninsula Behavioral Health.

Under the leadership of Wendy Sisk, this organization had worked tirelessly to create stable housing for high-need individuals. After converting the All View Motel into 26 apartment units, they were now taking on an even more ambitious project – the construction of 36 units of permanent supportive housing in Port Angeles and the conversion of space for five individuals to live in a group home in Sequim.

It was a testament to the power of innovation and the unwavering determination to address the root causes of homelessness, not just the symptoms.

Strengthening Families, Empowering Communities

But the affordable housing crisis in Clallam County wasn’t just about bricks and mortar. It was also about the social and economic well-being of the community. That’s where the United Way of Clallam County came into play, partnering with non-profit organizations that supported quality and affordable childcare, early childhood education, parental support, and family resources.

As I listened to the stories of the finalists in the Strong & Secure Families category, I was struck by the incredible work being done by organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, First Step Family Support Center, and the Olympic Peninsula YMCA. These entities were not just providing essential services; they were building a foundation for success, empowering families to break the cycle of poverty and achieve financial security.

Embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

But the commitment to a better Clallam County didn’t stop there. The region was also grappling with the crucial issue of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and the United Way of Clallam County was at the forefront of this movement.

The organization had recognized the importance of amplifying diverse voices and ensuring that all community members had a seat at the table. From the North Olympic Library System’s efforts to offer equitable and accessible services to Peninsula College’s comprehensive Equity Plan, the region was making strides towards a more inclusive future.

And it wasn’t just the non-profits leading the charge. The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce had also stepped up, hosting a series of DEI trainings that empowered local businesses to embrace the transformative power of diversity.

Building a Brighter Future, Together

As I stood in the heart of Clallam County, surrounded by the stories of resilience, innovation, and community, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of hope. This region, with all its challenges, was not just weathering the storm – it was charting a course towards a brighter, more equitable future.

From the city’s bold housing policies to the tireless efforts of organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Peninsula Behavioral Health, the message was clear: Clallam County was committed to cultivating a community where everyone had a place to call home. And with the unwavering support of the United Way and its partners, I knew that this vision was well within reach.

So, as I bid farewell to Clallam County, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of optimism. This region, with its resilience and determination, was a shining example of what can be achieved when a community comes together to address its most pressing challenges. And if you’re interested in joining this inspiring journey, I encourage you to visit HACC-housing.org to learn more about the affordable housing solutions being implemented in Clallam County.

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