Stanfield Housing

A vacant parcel of land along Highway 395 in Stanfield will soon be home to a 40-home, federally funded housing development called Patriot Heights.

A tip of the hat to the Umatilla County Housing Authority and their role in securing just over $8 million for a new housing development in Stanfield.

Patriot Heights will break ground next spring at a predicted cost of $253,000 per unit. The 12-month construction project will be built by Hayden Homes — which builds homes in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

The funding comes from a number of sources, including low income housing tax credits, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME program and the National Housing Trust Fund.

The state has been locked in a housing crisis for a long time, as illustrated by a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In Oregon, a person needs to make $21.26 an hour to afford the rent on a two-bedroom home, according to the coalition’s calculations, or work 79 hours a week at the minimum wage. Thirty-nine percent of Oregonians are renters, and their average income works out to $15.44 an hour. No wonder so many people are barely making it.

The lack of housing, though, isn’t just in Oregon. It is a nationwide problem.

Oregon’s “housing wage” — the hourly pay needed to keep rent from consuming more than 30 percent of income — was 17th highest in the nation. In one-third of the states, the problem is worse. California ranked third — behind Hawaii and the District of Columbia — with a housing wage of $32.68. Washington state was eighth, at $26.87. That helps explain why people keep moving to Oregon even though affordable housing is hard or impossible to find: They are likely to be coming from places where the problem is even worse.

When we cover new homes being built in western Umatilla County, the prices of $250,000 to $350,000 are often out of reach for many residents, leaving more and more people in the growing area to fight for the same few apartments and affordable homes. The problem is that the cost of land, materials and labor make it impossible for developers to get a return on their investment with $600 a month apartments or a $180,000 home. The only way that kind of housing shows up in the area is with state or federal dollars subsidizing the project, as is the case with Patriot Heights. Those in the area who can go after such grants will need to continue to do so if the area is to get more affordable housing.

Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo recently got a state grant for a housing study to look at what’s available now, what the need is and what they can do to better fill that need. We hope they find some good solutions and work to implement them.

A tip of the hat to Portland resident and outback biker Tomas Quinones who discovered 73-year-old Gregory Randolph near death in a remote region of the state recently.

Quinones was biking across the remote section of the Oregon high desert when he came upon Randolph near death after being stranded for four days. Quinones did not have cellphone service but hit the SOS button on his GPS tracking device and began to help Randolph. Randolph was later transported by ambulance to a hospital and Quinones went on his way. Quinones’ quick action and devotion to saving another life deserves the highest praise.

A kick in the pants to people who continue to disregard common sense and leave their animals in cars as the temperature climbs. At least for the foreseeable future, temperatures are going to continue to climb as we move into the last phase of summer. An animal left in a vehicle — even for a short time — can immediately be at risk of serious injury. Just last month a Medford man faced a felony charge for animal abuse after he fell asleep and left his dog inside a car. The animal did not survive.

A tip of the hat to the Hermiston School District and Good Shepherd Health Care System for their effort to provide a wellness clinic for youths during the upcoming school year. The concept is a good one, but what is best about the venture is the cooperation between the two entities to make a difference for students.

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