AllCare officials did in less than a month what Curry County commissioners failed to do in more than a year and allocated $70,000 in grants to four local groups to address homelessness here.

The money was part of a $100,000 grant awarded to the county in 2015 to study the affordable housing issue in the area. About $1,000 of that was spent by then-County Commissioner Susan Brown to host a housing conference.

AllCare later said the county could use the money for anything involved with homelessness — from studying the issue to building or acquiring homes — but the balance of the money sat idle until the current board of commissioners voted to return it to AllCare late last year.

“The money was just sitting for a long time, and a lot of groups were interested in it,” said Cameron McVay, AllCare’s Curry County member services area manager. “It was crazy. But seeing that interest bolster over two years to the point where we could get the money out there was great. There are a lot of people in need, and all these groups dedicated to doing this came to us with great proposals. It was nice to have the flexibility to get them money in a relatively short period of time. It was incredible to be a part of something like that.”

Projects awarded

Josh Balloch, AllCare’s vice president of government relations and health policy, said Commissioner Court Boice was instrumental in getting groups to apply to the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) so it could review projects and award the money.

Projects awarded were:

•Oregon Coast Community Action’s Family Assistance and Support Team will receive $30,000 to expand from Coos County into Curry County and provide housing and services for families in crisis;

•The Vietnam Veterans of America chapter 757’s Veterans Outreach Program, which helps veterans of any war and their families with hardships they experienced that has, or likely will, result in homelessness, received $5,000;

•Oasis Shelter Home received $20,000 for a second transitional housing shelter, this one likely in Brookings, to support women and children who are victims of domestic abuse or other violence; and

•Curry County Community Development Department was awarded $5,000 to develop planning processes for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), defined as smaller residences or “mother-in-law units,” typically on sites with an existing home. ADU development has been recognized nationally as a way to increase housing and stabilize homeownership.

“Oh my gosh, the ripple effect of having ADUs will increase housing stock for people’s needs whether it’s addressing people looking to have a caregiver, or an economic thing where people can rent out their units,” said AllCare Community Advisory Council (CAC) Chair Georgia Nowlin. “That increases housing rental stock. There are so many opportunities. It addresses people being able to stay in their homes, now have a place to put the caregiver, or rent it out and have the extra income.”

The county Community Development Department will now be able to implement an ordinance it has had in place since 2016.

“An ordinance just sitting there doesn’t do anything,” Nowlin said. “Until they can go into the zoning maps, it can’t be implemented. The money allows them to contact people in those zones to ask them how they want the codes to look.”

Nowlin noted a proposal for a mobile shower unit was not addressed because the applicant was unavailable to present the idea to the advisory council.

Other housing and homeless support proposals funded by the Curry County CAC last month totaled $10,000 and include support for the Curry County Homeless Coalition to conduct its Point in Time homeless census Jan. 29 to 31, and establishing a homeless support fund with ORCCA to provide assistance to individuals and families suffering the effects of extreme poverty and homelessness.

Like the rest of Oregon, Curry County has a tight rental market in the past few years as the economy has improved. Many homeowners took advantage of recovering home values and sold their houses — often leaving renters in the lurch — or turned them into second homes or vacation rentals.

For some housing units, particularly subsidized housing, the wait list is two years.

CAC, comprised of AllCare members and leaders in the Curry County community, advise the organization on how to spend its grant funds, with a goal of improving individual and community health.

The CAC is accepting applications to distribute the remainder of the Curry Housing Fund grant, which totals about $28,000. Application reviews will take place in April. For more information, contact Sam Engel at 541-471-4106 or sam.engel@allcarehealth.com .

AllCare Health is a health organization covering Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties, that combines medical, oral and behavioral health services with Medicare and the Oregon Health Plan insurance into one organization.

Reach Jane Stebbins at jstebbins@currypilot.com .

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