Her life in the Valley of Riches

Illinois Valley Living Solutions volunteer & outreach coordinator Connie Dillinger and myself, acting as project manager for I.V. HOPE Village, attended the National Housing Assistance Council in Washington, D.C. Connie and I received a scholarship from HAC and a grant from Ford Family Foundation to attend this conference due to the fact that I am in the process of applying to the USDA for a grant in order to purchase equipment for I.V. HOPE Village, the transitional housing facility coming soon in Cave Junction.
We left Monday, Oct. 23 in the evening and took the redeye to D.C. and got back at 1:30 a.m. Saturday. I felt like the Country Mouse in the children’s story “City Mouse and Country Mouse.” It was my first time to Washington, D.C. and I am still reeling from all the sights.
I am sure you are aware that the U.S. has a housing problem and the state of Oregon recently declared a homeless emergency.
The title of the conference was “Build Rural” and authorities specializing in low-income housing were present to share their knowledge.
My biggest takeaways from the conference are that 1) although it is difficult to get USDA funding to start low-income housing, it is not impossible – you just have to understand the process and stay diligent; and 2) it is critical to have good data to back up your claims of needing housing.
The latest housing movement across the nation to help solve homelessness is called permanent supportive housing. This type of housing follows the Housing First model that suggests that providing low-income housing along with supportive services to people in need, without restrictive rules, is the most effective way to keep people moving forward to having a stable lifestyle and staying housed.
Besides learning the ins and outs of creating housing in rural areas, Connie and I took a tour of the U.S. Capitol. The weather was sunny and warm at 75 degrees, so we decided to walk down K Street from our hotel to the Capitol. When we got to our destination, I felt a sense of awe. No matter your political stance, I feel anyone should be amazed at the architecture of this historic building. During the tour, you could feel the hum of historical events and powerful voices in the hallways. I especially loved looking at the statues donated from all 50 states and the paintings of historical events such as the Pilgrims coming to North America and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. My favorite part was looking at the ceiling and hearing about how the Rotunda depicts George Washington rising to the heavens in glory, flanked by female figures representing Liberty and Victory.
I will be sharing more information from the Build Rural conference in the future. I hope you enjoy this week’s paper.