In our county and across the state, people with disabilities, seniors and low-income families are struggling to secure safe, stable and affordable housing. For people who experience a disability, as well as seniors, income is often fixed and very limited, leaving adequate and affordable housing out of reach.

As Oregonians we can do better in finding new approaches to address the affordable housing shortage. This fall, voters will have a chance to do just that with a “Yes” vote on Measure 102.

Here in Southern Oregon, far too many people are struggling with rising rents and not enough affordable housing options. Many live in housing they can’t afford. It simply isn’t a sustainable situation. We can do more to see people live in safe and affordable housing, because we know that safe, appropriate and affordable housing is fundamental for a strong community.

Measure 102 is a solution that doesn’t cost voters anything and can strengthen the efforts of communities across the state trying to address the affordable housing crisis. Measure 102 is supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the Oregon Legislature. It will make a small change in our state’s law to allow communities to stretch affordable housing bond funds. If Measure 102 passes, cities will be able to partner with local affordable housing developers to build more affordable housing.

Right now, when communities consider local bonds for affordable housing, governments must be completely responsible to own and operate any housing project built with bond dollars. That means Oregon is losing out on decades of experience by private affordable housing developers, plus the ability to pair bonds with other local, state or federal dollars to stretch the bonds further.

Organizations across Oregon — and right here in Douglas County — know how to do develop and build housing that folks can afford, including our local experts, NeighborWorks Umpqua and UCAN. Over the last two decades, NeighborWorks Umpqua has built or rehabilitated over 500 units of affordable housing in Douglas, Coos and Curry counties. They were recently awarded funds from Oregon Housing and Community Services to build 68 new affordable homes in Roseburg. We have the expertise in our community to build, own and operate affordable housing as part of our community infrastructure.

While our county hasn’t put forward an affordable housing bond to voters, this ballot measure could enable our community to provide additional affordable housing in the future.

Measure 102 is a tool we need to build safe, stable and affordable housing for people who experience a disability, seniors and low-income families.

Please vote yes on Measure 102.

Robin Mouser is the director of Southern Oregon Regional Brokerage, a Support Services Brokerage serving adults with developmental disabilities in Douglas, Coos, Curry and Klamath Counties.

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