Despite near total agreement that the specially formed Curry County Housing Committee needs to come some distance organizationally, Curry County Commissioners agreed to allow it to continue at their meeting on Wednesday.
This in the wake of a call to dissolve it by several members including Mary Rowe who claimed to be “bullied” and have her rights “violated outrageously” through the process of the meeting.
Chair person Connie Hunter agreed that the last meeting lacked an agenda and struggled with on line technology but denied any bullying or attempt to silence members while admitting it’s been disorganized which may have led to bad feelings, “I’m sorry for that.”
Hunter was aided by Economic Development Coordinator Summer Matteson who promised in future to create the agendas, minutes and to run the meetings technologically.
“What I don’t want to do is dissolve it but some things need to be updated and revamped,” Matteson said.
Commissioner John Herzog agreed the committee needs a more organized approach.
“There was no agenda,” he stated while pointing out minutes were outdated. “It looks irresponsible.”
Matteson concurred, describing the August 13 meeting as “a hot mess.” However, she promised to right the ship claiming she would step up. “I’m offering to make this my priority.”
The Curry County Housing Committee was formed in the wake of receiving American Rescue Plan funds from the federal government as a result of COVID-19. The funds, according to Finance Director Brad Rueckert, are being allocated by commissioners for a variety of programs with a bulk of the money, roughly $3.3 million available for low income housing. It’s unclear how much commissioners will eventually allocate toward housing but the committee was formed in order to offer recommendations.
Currently there is just over $1 million remaining of the last allocation. A little more than $2 million is expected to arrive from the ARP in May of 2022, according to Rueckert.
The committee is tasked with determining best locations and partners to create “shovel ready” projects in order to deal with Curry County’s lack of affordable housing. Curry County continues to face a shortage of affordable housing, with median rental costs at $870 — the highest in the Southwest region, according to the Oregon Development Department.
“Coastal and affordable are mutually exclusive,” said David Barnes, Curry County treasurer and member of the committee. He pointed to how quickly prices rise between breaking ground and finishing projects and urged the commissioners push for quicker action.
Committee member Da’llen Nedervelt encouraged commissioners to stick with them.
“There has been a serious crisis in Curry County,” discussing a lack of workforce housing “this is squeezing the working people out. It’s going to take team work, not playing the blame game,” Nedervelt said.
Commissioners eventually agreed to allow the Housing Committee to decide its own best fate. The next meeting will be September 10 at 4 p.m. The meeting can be joined by logging into www.gotomeet.me/curry-boc/housing-committee.