The Housing Authority of Jackson County has been a strong partner with the county, city of Medford and community at large for the past 43 years to provide safe, affordable housing options for seniors, disabled and working families in our community.

The Housing Authority of Jackson County has been a strong partner with the county, city of Medford and community at large for the past 43 years to provide safe, affordable housing options for seniors, disabled and working families in our community.

Over the past five years alone, our initiatives to develop new housing options have generated more than $60 million in economic activity and led to the creation of 1,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs, supporting local companies that provide materials and supplies for our new developments. As a result of our partnerships, hundreds of families who once had nowhere to turn have affordable, safe options to raise their families and contribute back to our community.

Our mission, since 1969, is to preserve, develop and maintain safe and affordable housing while promoting efforts toward self-sufficiency. Our ability to carry out this mission in Medford now and in the future is at risk with the dispute with the city over our proposed Cherry Creek development in East Medford.

The Housing Authority has carefully made an informed and mindful decision to formally pursue legal action to ensure fair treatment and housing choice for all Medford residents, in addition to the land-use appeal process already under way.

We have reached out more than once to resolve the issues and requested reconsideration by the city. We understand the potential costs to all with this action, but feel that from a mission standpoint, a fair housing obligation and a business standpoint, it is our only remaining option.

Both the city and Housing Authority have a legal and moral obligation to affirmatively further fair housing by promoting integration and ending segregation. Planning and building a diversified housing stock, including affordable housing, is one way to provide for an increasingly diversified community. The Housing Authority has an obligation to this community to hold strong in its resolve in this matter and will not acquiesce to the idea that affordable housing should be limited to only certain parts of town.

Over the last year, we have followed every regulatory process and procedural step to secure the approval from the local land-use commissions for the development of work force housing. We were thorough in our plans and ensured our proposal met or exceeded every criteria required by zoning and land development code.

When the neighborhood shared their concerns, we listened. We proposed amendments to our development to address specific concerns. More than once, we reached out to work collaboratively and fulfill our commitment to facilitate good partnerships with local neighborhoods. We were optimistic that this project would help spur economic activity for the community as well as meet a very real need for housing. We still hope to work collaboratively toward that goal.

When the City Council reversed the recommendation of its own Site Plan and Architectural Commission and Planning Commission, we were disappointed. We remain disappointed that despite a chronic lack of affordable housing for families in Jackson County and the city of Medford, politics is trumping good public policy.

Jackson County has consistently been ranked among the top 5 hardest hit communities in the nation since the housing crash. The city's own Comprehensive Housing Plan identifies a massive shortage of housing — roughly 4,500 units — for families earning $25,000 a year or less. Furthermore, the plan directs the city to assist and work in partnership with agencies like the Housing Authority of Jackson County to fulfill this need and provide affordable options for the families that work in our community.

The rejection by the City Council of this development in effect turns away hope to families who would benefit from this housing now and for years to come. It turns away the opportunity for $20 million in new economic activity in our community. The Housing Authority, however, will not walk away from its responsibility to help residents of Jackson County to have access to a safe, clean and affordable place to live.

Our option of last resort is to rectify this matter in the courts on behalf of the citizens discriminated against as a result of City Council action. We sincerely hope this option is not necessary and that we can come to a resolution that satisfies all parties. A lot is on the line. The most important goal is to ensure that families in our community know they are valued and rewarded for working hard and playing by the rules to provide for their families.

Scott Foster is executive director of the Housing Authority of Jackson County. He wrote this opinion on behalf of the Housing Authority's board of commissioners.