REMARKS AS PREPARED
Hotel Julian Re-opening
June 4, 2015
Good afternoon and congratulations.
I’m thrilled to be here with you as we celebrate the grand “re-opening” of the Hotel Julian Apartments.
First of all, I want to welcome home the residents of the Hotel Julian.
They are emblematic of Oregonians across the state.
Some make less than $10,000 a year, some are older, and some have disabilities. Now, consider that the median income of Corvallis is $40,000 a year. If the Hotel Julian had been converted to market-rate apartments, it would have forced people in 35 households here to leave this amazing community.
One of those residents is Jeannie Johnson. After a series of unfortunate events in her life, Jeannie found herself facing homelessness. It was the first time in her life that she didn’t have the security of a home, or money. She prayed for shelter.
One of Jeannie’s happiest days was when she received the call that she would become a resident of the Hotel Julian. Finally she felt relief. This home fulfils her wishes. She has a room that is clean, quiet, safe – it even has a river view. Most importantly, Jeannie says the Hotel Julian serves a greater purpose and gives her comfort that she will survive.
All across Oregon you can find people struggling to make ends meet. Forced to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table. Places like the Hotel Julian are an answer to that problem.
I’m proud to be here with you to celebrate this community. This is a great example for the entire state. Because of the dedication of so many people, today we get to welcome current and future residents to a safe, affordable place to call home.
I want to take a moment to highlight the collaborative efforts that made this all possible. We are here today because of Northwest Housing Alternatives and Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services. They worked together in an innovative way to preserve the Hotel Julian so that the property can continue to be an affordable housing resource for the City of Corvallis.
Northwest Housing Alternatives had the development capacity to preserve the building and save it from market-rate conversion. But folks there also understood that Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services had the service capacity to meet the needs of the residents. After we cut the ribbon today, Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services will add this property to its portfolio and serve the residents for decades to come.
As we walk through the building in a few minutes, you will notice that in addition to providing affordable homes, the partners rehabilitated what was an unhealthy and inefficient building. Now, the Hotel Julian is not only beautiful, but it is a greener and healthier building for those that call it home and for the state of Oregon.
This building illustrates the type of collaboration, innovation, and commitment to ensuring that everyone has the housing that opens opportunities to build better lives. Knowing that more families have stability and a roof over their heads fuels my passion for the work ahead of us in Oregon.
The struggles here aren’t unique. Communities throughout the state are struggling to meet the needs of their residents. One in three households spend more than half their income on housing, leaving too little money left over for other basic necessities such as food and medicine.
Many communities are also struggling with extremely low vacancy rates – less than 1 percent in some places. If you can find a place to live, housing costs are increasing and rents are going up. At the same time, we know that people’s wages aren’t increasing at the same pace. This results in homelessness, rent burden, and housing instability.
The good news is, we know how to overcome the challenges of housing instability and homelessness. More affordable homes. It is the pie crust for moving people out of poverty. That’s why I’m proposing an investment of $100 million to bolster the state’s stock of affordable housing. This will add about 4,000 new units to meet the needs of our communities.
Today I am asking for your support.
Let Senator Gelser and Representatives Rayfield and Olson know that Oregon needs to increase affordable housing availability so that more families have opportunities to thrive.
Mayor Traber has already testified in support of this investment. Thank you Mayor for your leadership.
Let’s continue to work together so that we can welcome more Oregonians home.
Congratulations and thank you to everyone.