An article by The Other Oregon investigates housing and homelessness in rural Oregon and how some rural communities are addressing the problem. Dan Brown, Burns city manager, was interviewed for the article .
Brown knows first-hand how difficult finding affordable permanent housing when you move to Harney County to work, because he lived in a travel trailer parked in an RV park until he could buy a house that was in the process of being remodeled. He's finishing the remodel himself.
Besides the need for housing to attract professional and skilled workers, there is a need for housing for lower-income residents. Brown estimates Burns-Hines has 40 to 50 homeless people. He acknowledged that many in the community want affordable housing, but don't want to provide low-income housing. He disagrees with this stance because the community needs affordable housing for all of its residents.
The nuts and bolts of how Burns is moving forward to provide affordable housing is being decided by the Burns Urban Renewal Agency (BURA), which was created by the Burns City Council after the city identified Blighted Areas (as defined by Oregon statute) within in its boundaries. The BURA then created a draft Burns Urban Renewal Plan that identifies 389.55 acres of land in tax lots and 01.8 acres of public right-of-way within what is termed the Burns Urban Renewal Area. Within this area are properties in need of rehabilitation, undeveloped properties such as parks, and vacant land that may be developed for housing. The following map outlines the Urban Renewal Boundary, which is found in the draft Burns Urban Renewal Plan.
Figure 1. Burns Urban Renewal Area Boundary (from draft Burns Urban Renewal Plan)
Readers are encouraged to read the documents published by the BURA to learn about:
A Seattle nonprofit is helping Native Americans who are homeless. Underscore reporting points out that helping those who are low-income and chronically homeless requires, in addition to basic shelter, case management and social, medical, and cultural services. While the article, and this particular shelter, focuses on the needs of Native Americans, the concept could be useful to any community trying to address the issues of long-term homelessness and substandard housing, both of which exist in Burns, Hines, and Harney County.
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