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Affordable housing fund director Ramsay Weit stepping down

Weit, who helped raise more than $4 million in 11 years, to retire

After 11 years as executive director of the Community Housing Fund in Washington County, Ramsay Weit is retiring. But the former attorney, Portland resident and founding board member of the CHF won't stop fighting for affordable housing after he steps down. RAMSAY WEIT

“I've spent too many years in the fray to simply walk away,” said Weit, who secured more than $4 million from public and private partners to bolster the revolving loan fund so nonprofit community development corporations could build affordable housing in the county.

Weit, who attended or presided over hundreds of meetings geared toward alleviating homelessness across the county, said he was “proud of the tangible outcomes of our collective effort,” which financed the construction or preservation of more than 1,000 new homes for working families, seniors, people with disabilities or those living on fixed incomes.

“I've been extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to establish and work in partnership over the years with an extensive network of colleagues in Washington County who are drawn to our mission,” said Weit.

That list includes Forest Grove residents Russ Dondero, a professor emeritus at Pacific University, and Eric Canon, a metal artist and chairman of the Interfaith Committee on Homelessness.

“Any time there was a meeting involving housing on any level, Ramsay was there,” Canon said. “We worked with him early with the IFCH as we learned about affordable housing, the number one need then and the number one need now.”

Weit would often “walk between his office on Murray Boulevard and Millikan Way to Homelessness Plan Advisory Committee meetings held at Beaverton City Hall,” Canon recalled. He's also trekked across Scotland and traveled with Forest Grove native and activist Seth Prickett to Ghana in 2010, where the two were part of a team of people helping build schools with the nonprofit Framework International.

The housing fund — its motto is “It takes a seed to grow a plant; it takes seed money to grow a community” — blossomed under Weit's leadership, said Val Valfre, chairman of the CHF's board of directors.

“During (Weit's) tenure, the fund has raised the level of awareness of the critical need for housing options for residents of Washington County, many of whom are paying as much as 50 percent of their income (for) housing costs,” Valfre said, adding that Weit engaged the Westside Economic Alliance in furthering the CHF's mission. participated in community planning initiatives and served on numerous local boards and commissions.

Currently, CHF's net assets are “the largest to date” at about $3 million, noted Valfre, including operating reserves to ensure a financially smooth transition.

CHF board members recently approved a three-year strategic plan and set goals for the fund's new executive director, Sheila Greenlaw-Fink, who starts Sept. 16. Greenlaw-Fink is the former director of the Portland-based nonprofit Community Partners for Affordable Housing.

Weit, a participant in the Washington County Commission's 2008 initiative, “A Road Home: 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness,” said he was most proud of CHF's success in “spreading the word countywide about the role affordable housing plays in building inclusive communities, ensuring kids have productive school experiences and helping workers keep their jobs by providing them a safe place to go home to.”