It's a Housing Emergency!
Find out more about the draft resolution declaring a housing emergency, Room One's housing and homelessness supports, the Housing Solutions Network, and our new Host Home program.
It's an Emergency!
WHEREAS, the Methow Valley has a critically low rental vacancy rate of less than one percent; and
WHEREAS, we are experiencing business and societal shifts brought on by increases in the number of remote working options that enable non-resident workers earning significantly higher wages to displace local workers in the housing market; and
WHEREAS, although the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been wide-spread, the economic and housing impact of the pandemic has fallen most severely on lower income households, who are already more challenged than the general population to find adequate housing; and
WHEREAS, there is significant consensus and evidence that an increased supply of affordable housing is necessary to ease the situation....
...... So reads part of the draft resolution officially declaring a housing crisis which was presented to the Winthrop Planning Commission on October 26 for consideration. The Commission has voted to advance the resolution to Winthrop Town Council for the November meeting! This effort reflects powerful work of community volunteers and organizers, elevating the local housing crisis and assuring our towns and county are part of the solution. #WeMethow
Our Housing Crisis is Felt Deeply
Room One utilizes critical funding from the Okanogan Housing Coalition, Salvation Army, and Community Emergency Funds to directly prevent homelessness and build housing stability among Methow Valley residents. Financial support to sustain and access housing is more vital than ever as our communities work to recover from the hardships of the pandemic and recent fires, as well as navigate a housing market that continues to increase in cost and decrease in availability. Since the Covid-pandemic began, these funds were used hundreds of times to position individuals and families to avoid homelessness through temporary rental and utility subsidies, deposits for rental homes, and emergency or temporary shelter vouchers.
In addition, our Youth Homelessness Case Manager, Carrie Port, has seen 15 young people (ages 14-24) in the past 4 months who have unsafe, unstable or nonexistent housing. These resilient individuals are living out of cars, in tents up on forest service roads, couch surfing, and continually exploring options of where they might stay next. As our 2018-2019 youth homelessness needs assessment showed, we need a network of volunteer host homes locally which could expand temporary housing options for these young people. For more on our host home program, see the story below.
Local housing solutions groups are now working on different issues: communications, advocacy, infrastructure, planning, simpler home modifications, and more. There are plans for programs, existing properties, as well as new buildings. In short, we need it all!
Looking to get involved? We need you! Reach out to Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Room One with your interests and we will get you connected.
Housing Solutions that Matter
As the Housing Solutions Network began our review of possible solutions from other communities, we recognized we needed some guiding values that would help us determine which solutions we would pursue further.
Throughout numerous stakeholder meetings across the summer, with upwards of 70+ people from all classes and trades, we felt resonance with these values - together, we're on the right track.
- We believe that if we do not address housing in the Methow Valley now, the Valley we love may be lost.
- We believe in an integrated community. We believe that all community members (local workforce, seniors, families, single households) should have a stable place to call home, and that when there are housing options for all, we all benefit.
- We believe the housing challenges facing the Methow Valley are multi-faceted and interconnected and will therefore require a diversity of housing solutions to meet the varied needs. There is no one silver bullet to our current situation.
- We believe our community can find implementable actions that will create lasting and equitable housing options for all in the Methow Valley. We believe this may require new forms of leadership and collaborations between for-profit, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. We believe it may also require changes in how many of us in this community live and think.
Host Homes Work: Let's Do This!
Informal host homes have long been a working solution for teens and young people who can no longer stay at home. Staying with friends, couch surfing, staying with aunties in the community - these networks are what get us through and help young people find safety and stability.
Host homes have now emerged as a formal model of support over the past decade, and are especially essential in rural areas where youth shelters and youth centers are often non-existent. After being on hold during the Covid-peak of 2020-2021, Room One is preparing to launch our formal Host Home program. We are seeking community volunteers who are interested in becoming a host. Being a host means you are:
- Willing to complete a two-week training on how to support youth & young adults from a variety of backgrounds and experiences,
- Able to provide a private bedroom in your home (or adjacent space) for a 12-24 year old,
- Open to negotiating house rules that work for your household well-being and the young person's stability, and
- Actively communicating with Room One staff and open to working through challenges together.
Background checks are also required. Youth under 18 are required to have parent or guardian permission to enter the host home program. Extensive support through case management for both the youth and the host volunteer are an integral part of the program. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Ronda Smeltzer, Room One Host Home Coordinator, at email@example.com.