County struggles to house workforce

HousingForRentBy Chelsea Yarnell

A closed market.
That’s how one member of the new Tillamook Housing Task Force described the housing situation in Tillamook County.
Representatives from CARE, Habitat for Humanity, Pelican Pub and Brewery, Tillamook Regional Medical Center, Columbia Bank, Tillamook County Creamery Association, the Small Business Development Center, the Tillamook County Community Development Department, and several others met on Nov. 9 to begin the long process of finding solutions to the housing epidemic in Tillamook County.
Spearheaded by Commissioner Bill Baertlein, the Task Force was assembled because of the success of the Transient Lodging Tax.
TLT has kicked off and wants to increase tourism to the area, CARE’s Executive Director Erin Skaar said. Employers will need additional staff for additional visitors
“Staff will not be here if they don’t have a place to live,” Skaar continued.
Local employers including the Creamery and Tillamook Regional Medical Center find that the housing situation is a huge barrier in recruiting because potential candidates are unable to find a place to live—affordable or anything.
“It’s been a struggling need here for decades,” Senior Planner for Tillamook County Community Development Sarah Absher said.
Without a Housing Authority in Tillamook County, several employers in the area are motivated to find a solution themselves.
The Tillamook County Creamery Association has committed $50,000 to the Task Force’s work, with an addition $1,500 coming from Charter Communications. The Task Force also requested $1,000 from Columbia Bank.
“We have folks willing to step forward at whatever level they’re able to,” Skaar said. “It’s time in Tillamook for us to rely on ourselves. It’s the stories we’ve been talking about here…we can’t wait for someone to come in here with a solution.”
In the primitive stages, the Task Force is interested in an analysis of all types of housing, but three types of housing are of particular interest:
1. Low and very low income
2. Workforce and family housing
3. Young professional and professional housing
The Task Force will consider hiring a consultant that would be the “expert” on housing with in the County. The group hopes to use contributed funds and a potential $40,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust to cover costs.
While a large development project may be far off, “hanging fruit” or short-term solutions are being brainstormed.
Have you had a problem finding housing in Tillamook County? Please share your experiences with the editor at: [email protected] or call 503-842-7535.