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Commissioner Hall's Priorities

Friends,

 

The last four years have been unprecedented in terms of the COVID pandemic, Echo Mountain Fire, and political polarization within Lincoln County.  Yet, the Board of Commissioners has remained steadfast in serving all who live and work here, and while we are no longer in crisis mode, we continue to recover, as we approach our destination of a THRIVING community. We have many priorities, some of which are specific to my own passions, skill-set, and expertise.  The notion of leaving my seat as County Commissioner/Position 2, at this crucial time, is unacceptable. To quote our county’s namesake, Abraham Lincoln, “…it is not best to swap horses while crossing the river.” 

This year I’m going through my twentieth budget cycle as a commissioner and thirty-eighth overall. Our elected officials, appointed department heads, and administrative support staff work together over a period of several months to shape the budget, which is a reflection of both our priorities and our values—organizationally, and as a community. We have worked steadily through the years to develop a more open and transparent process, including much more informative and user-friendly documents.

While the budget process sets the overall priorities for the coming budget-year, for me it is a constant process of monitoring our operations, and ongoing communication with stakeholders, partners and others in the community to make sure we’re as efficient and effective as we can be.

Although my responsibilities span the county’s entire book of business, these are my top priorities:


HOMELESSNESS & HOUSING CRISIS

Homelessness is a difficult problem statewide, and nationally. Here in Lincoln County, the numbers of unhoused individuals, families, and pets has increased substantially, and the demographics appear to be very different from in years past.  I will be able to update the community with specific numbers after the statistical analysis of our recent comprehensive survey has been completed (thanks to 100 volunteers from 27 organizations). However, I do know that the population of those without homes, in Lincoln County includes an increase in children, families, and elderly adults—with and without physical and mental health disabilities.  While there are some among us who are struggling with substance use disorders and/or mental illness, the numbers of those who aren’t is substantial.

In addition, the shortage in affordable housing for those who have come to Lincoln County to work is not lost on any of us on the Board of Commissioners.  I will continue to address this exploding crisis and the growing homeless problem.   We’ve made remarkable headway in the past few years, but the task is far from finished, and my leadership in these endeavors, along with the other members of the Board of Commissioners, and other community leaders, is vital to successfully implement the forecasted remedies. Here’s why:

 

  • As current Chairperson of the Oregon Housing Stability Council, I have my hand on the pulse of the state’s housing policies, and recently helped steer funds to Lincoln County for permanent and transitional housing. We’ve funded several-hundred units. Some of which are completed and already occupied by the county’s workforce, while others are under development:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • I worked with the residents of Harbor Village RV park to secure funding that allowed the residents to buy it and turn it into a resident-owned cooperative instead of it going to a private owner. This saved 201 affordable homes.

 

  • I’ve worked to expand the portfolio of local Land Trust homes in the county by eight units to date. These provide long-term, affordable home ownership opportunities to eligible families.                                                          ​

  • I am the Chairperson of the Lincoln County Homeless Advisory Board (LCHAB):​​​

 

  • ​​LCHAB’s mission: “To ensure that every member of our community has access to the resources they need, while also working to prevent the circumstances that lead to homelessness.”

 

  • In my role as Chair, I’ve achieved unprecedented collaboration with public partners, agencies, non-profits, and other entities to put our county on the path to making the experience of homelessness, brief and rare.

 

  • I’ve also led the effort to use Oregon HB 4123 funds ($1 million) to develop and implement a comprehensive county-wide strategy for the homeless people of Lincoln County.

 

  • Commissioners Jacobson, Miller, and I enabled the County to open the Community Shelter & Resource Center (CSRC)—a vital component to helping homeless people (and their pets) in Lincoln County have a safe and affirming transitional experience.

 

  • I’ve made countless connections, and collaborated with government and agency leaders throughout Oregon, in my former roles as Cochair of Oregon Ending Homelessness Advisory Council, and Chairperson on the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Programs.

 

Friends, I have met many of the homeless members of our community, and learned that the issue is complex and what brings a person to being without a home is unique to that person, and often not a result of their own doing. Moreover, those without roofs over their heads are not the only members of our community who are impacted by homelessness. Everyone who lives in Lincoln County is affected by this complex and troubling housing crisis.  The safety of individuals, families, and businesses has been jeopardized in recent times, as a result of desperate people enduring painful and difficult circumstances.  My dedication to combatting homelessness in Lincoln County is so all who live and work here can be safe, peaceful, and prosperous.

Your vote for me to remain your County Commissioner will enable me to continue the momentum of combatting the plight of homelessness in Lincoln County, which will ultimately improve the life-condition of all our community members—every, single one of us. Now is not the time to remove me from the seat of Commissioner, position 2.

PROTECTING NATURAL ASSETS

It is an honor to be a member of a board that prioritizes protecting the natural assets of Lincoln County. Preserving our region’s natural habitat always will be one of the guiding principles of the present Board of Commissioners. I am currently involved in the following:

  • Gearing up to do major work in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz to address local impacts of climate change.

  • Our Lincoln Land Legacy program continues to Continuing to partner with landowners and others to preserve priceless viewsheds and other irreplaceable natural assets, through our Lincoln Land Legacy program.

  • A new infusion of dollars, approved by voters last year, will strengthen our county parks system.  Thirteen parks are maintained by Lincoln County—including campgrounds and waysides.

QUALITY OF LIFE IN LINCOLN COUNTY

One of the things I feel called to do in my role as County Commissioner, is to gauge the state of the community, both individually and collectively.  Though there are limitations to what the Board of Commissioners (BOC) can do in combatting the challenges so many of us face in Lincoln County, it will always be important to me that I serve to enhance the lives off all who live and work here. This includes veterans, seniors, children, and families.
  Through the years, I've spearheaded the following:

  • Increased Veterans' Benefits

  • Created Veteran Administration Coastal Clinics

  • Expanded Head Start & Other Early Childhood Programs

  • Increased Senior Services

  • Championed Small Business Development

  • Grew Lincoln County's Transit System


Yet, also through the years, the county, state, and nation have experienced challenges that none of us anticipated.  I have called Lincoln County my home for nearly forty years, and I have seen the changes that these times have subjected us to—some positive, some negative—and some of us have been hit harder than others with being fraught with difficulties, especially since the COVID pandemic and Echo Mountain Fire hit the community.  I see you.  I hear you.

 

Sometimes it’s little things, like finding an increase in your shampoo costs when there is less in the bottle. Yet, more often than not, it’s the big things. The cost and unavailability of housing, healthcare, childcare, food, transportation, and other essentials are eating up more and more of a family’s income. The numbers say inflation is leveling off, but I don’t sense that people are feeling additional breathing room, yet.

A lot of the worries I hear about are related to housing. Finding a decent, affordable house or apartment is almost like a game of Chance. Some of you have lost housing at no fault of your own.  You’ve been victims of circumstances beyond your control, including gentrification of your neighborhood, and  no-cause evictions that allow landlords to boot tenants so they can remodel and then move in new tenants at significantly higher prices.  Yet, some of you are landlords whose hearts are in the right place, but in order to pay the expenses of home-ownership, you are forced to set your rates higher than you would like, and that prices out a lot of people.  

The steady escalation of housing prices and mortgage interest rates puts the dream of home-ownership out of reach for more and more families every day.  Many of you, who own homes, took out 2nd mortgages or received Home Equity Loans to keep your heads above water during the recent, troubling times.  This may have provided temporary relief, but I know many of you are still clinging to the financial edge.  Some of you are Seniors, retired, and acquiring debt at a most vulnerable time. I see you.  I hear you.

For a long time, we’ve heard that most of us are one crisis away from homelessness, and that feels truer than ever right now.  Whether it is the loss of employment, an illness, or catastrophic event, we are all vulnerable.  In fact, I helped secure 20 temporary homes for Echo Mountain Fire survivors and the hurdles were immense.  That’s why I’m fighting so hard to develop the systems and resources to make sure that in the future, homelessness is rare, and if/when it does occur, there is support in place to make the duration brief.  Yet, it’s far easier, less costly, and far less traumatic to prevent homelessness in the first place. THIS is one of my priorities!

The state and federal governments stepped up during the pandemic with emergency rent assistance, small business grants and extended unemployment benefits. Although these programs were fraught with challenges, they helped people stay afloat. But it didn’t save everybody, and some of you sunk, financially.  I see you.  I hear you.

The youth in our community (and nationwide), as a whole, are struggling in their academic and social lives, as a result of the pandemic restrictions.  Many families need social and mental health services with few providers available—leaving them flailing.  Even if you can afford it, child care can be challenging to find in Lincoln County.  Providers who do come to serve our community struggle to find housing.  I see you.  I hear you.

I suppose I shouldn’t assume that it goes without saying that I have always been conscious of the cultural, racial, sexual, gender, and religious diversity in Lincoln County. I am also aware that not all community members are proponents of “equity for all.” This is not lost on me, and I will continue to work toward making Lincoln County safe and prosperous for all.

 

Finally, I hear many of you express concerns about the rough shape of many of the roads along which you travel.  While those for which the county is responsible are in excellent condition, the state highways that run through Lincoln County are in rough shape. If people can’t get from point A to point B without losing a tire, something’s wrong.  As your County Commissioner, I will continue to advocate with our state and federal legislators for the resources to bring the state roads up to par.

Friends, of course I can’t face all the challenges, or fix all the problems, myself. Many of them are beyond the scope and power of county government and my role as Commissioner. But I am committed to continue my efforts toward improving the lives of all who live and work here, while preserving the county's natural habitat.  Some of you may see the tasks that lie ahead as daunting, but I am looking ahead with confidence and hope.  The opportunities for all of you are limitless, and your vote for me will keep these priorities, and all the other projects and business associated with my role, in play without interruption.  

 

I'm here for you!

Claire Hall

Lincoln County Commissioner, Position 2

 

  • Surf View Village, Newport, (104).

  • Twenty-fifth Street Apartments, Lincoln City, (107).

  • Wecoma Place, Lincoln City, (25).

  • Fisterra Garden Apartments, Yachats, (21).

  • Blackberry Hill, Toledo, (11)--majority for our Veterans.

  • Coastal Phoenix Rising, Lincoln City

  • Nate's Place, Newport
     

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March 18, 2024, Lincoln County Commissioner Claire Hall,

Megan Loeb, Executive Director, Oregon Community Foundation, and Sheila Stiley, Executive Director of Northwest Coastal Housing

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