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New group starts to address affordable housing and disaster recovery

A new nonprofit launched to help address the region’s housing shortage is hoping to facilitate a collaboration between public and private entities to design and create affordable places for people to live.

The nonprofit, called Rogue Valley Housing Solutions, is being pushed by Karen Logan, a Realtor, the author of “Clean House, Clean Planet,” and founder of the Parker House, a transitional housing project for homeless women and children. Logan kicked off her newest venture last week with the first in a series of Zoom meetings.

The series, running from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each Tuesday, will feature experts from around the country who have experience in housing issues and disaster recovery.

Last week, about four dozen attendees from various local agencies tuned in for a session titled “How do we recover from disaster?”

The session featured experts from the St. Bernard Project (sbpusa.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to shrink the time between disaster and recovery.

Founded after Hurricane Katrina, the project has rebuilt homes for thousands of families across the country. Logan said she hopes to encourage smart use of resources and to minimize overlap and duplication where possible.

With so many homes lost during the Almeda fire last September, Logan said she felt compelled to be part of a long-term solution.

“Our hope is to talk to experts about what we’re dealing with as a community. Absolutely our housing crisis was already bad and is now far worse since the fires,” said Logan.

“I’m a real estate broker. I was a real estate investor in Los Angeles and moved here in 2013 and immediately felt and saw the affordable-housing crisis.”

“I was up here on the day of the fire, and that was very impactful. I went back to LA but felt very strongly that all the work I had done, and all the experience I had gleaned over the years was leading me to be able to help in this situation,” she said.

“We decided the most logical first step was to focus on educating the community about housing solutions and disaster recovery, so we floated this idea about this Zoom series. We are faced with an amazing challenge and a huge problem.”

Stephen Sloan, executive director of Local Innovation Works (localinnovation.works), which invests in community via living wage jobs and internships, attended the first Zoom session.

Sloan applauded the effort to join the efforts of various helper groups that have rallied since summer fires.

“There is a lot going on in the valley right now, and it’s a good thing to really think about the best way to communicate all the things that are happening. In this question, we have been pulled into all kinds of different working groups including government people, social services, nonprofits. Karen is a doer but she believes in the power of providing education to the community and in bringing expertise where it is most needed,” Sloan said.

“The people she brought (last Tuesday) from the St. Bernard Project were very real and knowledgeable, and I found their insight to be very valuable. It’s important to remember that most people in the valley have never been through a major disaster, so it’s helpful to hear from experts who have helped communities through that.”

Upcoming zoom topics will include “Uniting Community to Rebuild” (Feb. 9); “Tiny House Villages” (Feb. 16); and “Disaster Response Network” (March 2). To tune in online, or view past sessions, see https://form.jotform.com/roguevalleyhousingsolutions/zoom-forum-series.

For more information, see https://roguevalleyhousingsolutions.org/, or email Karen and Kadyn at roguevalleyhousingsolutions@gmail.com.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneExecutive director Karen Logan holds a work board at the Rogue Valley Housing Solutions in Ashland.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Executive director Karen Logan (right) of Rogue Valley Housing Solutions with college graduate interns Makayla Hoyt (left) and Kadyn Jones outside their offices in Ashland.