What comes to mind when you think about the essentials for life? Food? Clothing? Education? How about shelter? I think we can all agree that these are necessities for all people, globally and in our county. Without access to these, life itself is put in jeopardy. When you look at the information from folks who study housing, like the Harvard Joint Center for Housing, you start to see that rents are rising much faster than incomes, nationwide as well as in Oregon. More and more Oregonians, especially in Douglas County, are forced to spend a majority of their money on rent.

One out of four Douglas County residents spends over half of their income on rent. Two out of five Curry County Residents pay more than 30 percent of their paycheck — the threshold of housing affordability — towards rent. If you make between $10.50 (minimum wage) and $11.99 (mean renter’s wage), a safe, clean and decent two-bedroom apartment is not affordable for you in Douglas County. This means you have less money for food, education, transportation and medicine, or you may live in substandard housing. Our friends, relatives and neighbors are having to make tough decisions because of rents rising faster than wages.

NeighborWorks Umpqua sees this crisis firsthand every day. The solution is simple: We need to build more housing that is affordable in our communities. That’s why we endorse a market-based approach for Oregon to move forward. We urge the residents of Douglas County to vote “Yes” on Measure 102.

As a rural nonprofit dedicated to improving our community through services in housing, finance and community, we have seen the housing crisis in our rural community growing. Every day we are helping people put a roof over their head, whether through affordable rentals or using our expert financial services (like Dream$avers or our full-service lending services), and it is not enough.

That is where Measure 102 can help. It is a simple solution that will give our communities more options to attack the problem. Local governments will be able to partner with affordable housing builders like NeighborWorks Umpqua to increase our community’s housing options. And as a community member, you will have the last word in the funding — not the folks in Salem.

In order for these partnerships to happen, projects have to be local voter-approved, so we can make sure the right projects are being designed and built for our community. This solution is not only sensible, it is nonpartisan. Everyone — families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities — deserves a safe, clean and affordable place to call home.

Housing for our working families is crucial for our community’s success. People with a stable home have better health, their children do better in school, families stay together, and they stay employed. This increases the economic vitality of a community and means that it is sustainable. Without safe, affordable housing, our communities will continue to suffer needlessly.

Passing Measure 102 does not increase our taxes. It puts control back in our hands and not in the hands of bureaucrats in Salem or Washington, D.C. It will give our community flexibility to find the right solutions, and the ability to reach people who are in need of housing. We can help our community grow stronger today with the passage of this measure.

Join NeighborWorks Umpqua in voting for the passage of Measure 102. Vote “Yes” to measure 102 this election season, and let’s support our community and thousands of Oregonians who can benefit from this.

Arielle Reid is the director of Policy and Advocacy for NeighborWorks Umpqua. She holds multiple graduate degrees, including one in Political Science.

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