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Cultivating Inclusivity: Affordable Housing Initiatives Fostering Diversity in Clallam

Affordable Housing Initiatives
Cultivating Inclusivity: Affordable Housing Initiatives Fostering Diversity in Clallam

As I sit here, gazing out at the breathtaking landscapes of Clallam County, I’m reminded of the incredible diversity that thrives within this community. From the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains to the rugged coastlines, this region is a tapestry of natural beauty, woven with the stories and experiences of its residents. Yet, amidst this splendor, a pressing challenge lurks – the need for affordable and accessible housing that truly reflects the inclusive spirit of Clallam.

Addressing the Affordable Housing Crisis

The affordable housing crisis in Clallam County is a complex issue, with far-reaching implications. According to the United Way of Clallam County, those most impacted are individuals and families living in poverty or classified as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) – households that earn less than the cost of basic necessities, yet too much to qualify for public assistance. This precarious situation leaves many residents struggling to keep a roof over their heads, let alone access the resources and opportunities that could help lift them out of the cycle of poverty.

Recognizing the urgency of this challenge, the city of Port Angeles has taken bold steps to address the affordable housing crisis. Through the implementation of innovative policies and programs, they are working tirelessly to overcome the barriers that have long hindered the development of diverse and accessible housing options. The Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program, Permit-Ready Plans Program, Fee Waiver Program, NICE Grants, and Affordable Housing Sales & Use Tax Grants are just a few of the initiatives that have been introduced to incentivize and support affordable housing projects.

Fostering Inclusive Communities

But the affordable housing crisis is not just about bricks and mortar – it’s about creating communities that reflect the diverse tapestry of Clallam County. That’s why organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County are tirelessly working to build homes for local families, ensuring that everyone has a place to call their own. Their Brownfield Road Project in Sequim, for example, will create 50 affordable homes, with funding support from partners ranging from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to the First Federal Foundation and the office of Congressman Derek Kilmer.

Furthermore, Peninsula Behavioral Health has taken on the challenge of providing stable housing for high-need individuals in Clallam County. By converting the All View Motel into 26 apartment units and undertaking a project to construct 36 units of permanent supportive housing in Port Angeles, as well as a group home in Sequim, they are demonstrating a deep commitment to ensuring that everyone in the community has access to the resources and support they need to thrive.

Strengthening Families and Communities

But affordable housing is just one piece of the puzzle. As an organization that envisions a community where everyone is supported to become their best self, the United Way of Clallam County recognizes the critical role that strong and secure families play in the overall well-being of the community. That’s why they have partnered with organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, First Step Family Support Center, and the Olympic Peninsula YMCA – each of which is working tirelessly to provide families with the resources, support, and opportunities they need to build a financially secure future.

From nutritious meals and supportive adult guidance at the Boys & Girls Clubs to the comprehensive family support services offered by First Step Family Support Center, these organizations are demonstrating the power of collaboration in creating a stronger, more resilient community. And with the Olympic Peninsula YMCA’s focus on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, families in Clallam County have access to a wide range of programs and services that cater to their unique needs and aspirations.

Embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

But the journey towards a truly inclusive Clallam County doesn’t end with affordable housing and family support. It also requires a deep commitment to addressing the systemic and institutional barriers that have long hindered the full participation of all community members. That’s why the United Way of Clallam County has made Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) a top priority, recognizing that a thriving community is one where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential.

Organizations like the North Olympic Library System and Peninsula College have already taken significant strides in this direction. The North Olympic Library System, for instance, has prioritized the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to review their policies, practices, collections, programs, and resources through an equity, diversity, and inclusion lens. Meanwhile, Peninsula College has made a concerted effort to ensure that all students, faculty, and staff have access to the resources and support they need to thrive, including the hiring of a dedicated Vice President for Human Resources and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

And the commitment to DEI doesn’t stop there. The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce has also recognized the importance of this work, hosting a series of trainings that offered participants an opportunity to explore the various aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and the positive impact they can have on the local business community.

Celebrating Community Champions

As I reflect on the incredible work being done to cultivate inclusivity and foster diversity in Clallam County, I’m reminded of the unsung heroes who are leading the charge. People like Colleen Robinson of Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County, Wendy Sisk of Peninsula Behavioral Health, and Wendy Bart of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA – all of whom have dedicated their lives to making a tangible difference in the lives of those they serve.

And then there are the community champions who work tirelessly behind the scenes, like Lexie J. Winters of Lexie J. Winters Photography, who has donated countless hours of her time and talent to support the Healthy and Affordable Community Coalition (HACC) and the United Way of Clallam County. It’s individuals like these, who embody the spirit of LIVE UNITED, that truly make Clallam County a place where everyone can thrive.

As I walk through the streets of Port Angeles, Sequim, and the surrounding communities, I can’t help but feel a sense of hope and optimism. The affordable housing initiatives, the family support services, and the unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion – all of these efforts are coalescing to create a more vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable Clallam County. And with the dedicated support of organizations like the Healthy and Affordable Community Coalition (HACC), I know that the journey towards a more equitable and inclusive future is well underway.

So, let us continue to celebrate the champions of change, to support the organizations that are making a difference, and to work together towards a Clallam County where everyone has a place to call home, a community to belong to, and the opportunity to thrive.

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