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Affordable senior housing: It can be viewed as a gift

There are numerous reasons to be grateful for our community and community leaders at year-end. As we work to respond to the families in other communities who have lost everything in the devastating floods, there are those in our own community who silently are often neglected. It is our low-income senior neighbor or senior family member.

This holiday season, I am especially thankful for the leaders of our Lake Grove Presbyterian Church and the Northwest Housing Alternative: Both non-profit organizations who were able to acquire nearly $5 million in HUD, Housing and Urban Development funds, to build a 43 unit senior housing complex called, Oakridge Park to be located behind the Lake Grove Post Office.

As a former mayor, I can attest to the incredible difficulty there is in our city for acquiring any federal funds. I have been following the development of this particular plan for affordable senior housing (those with incomes less than $25,000), for over a year.

Final decisions will soon be made for Oakridge Park. Planning staff, the development review commission and the building's sponsors have all done a thorough and excellent job. Having read the conditional use staff report summary, the report identifies the long list of goals that have been met, but also have outlined many recommendations: including parking and trees. These issues no doubt will be discussed at the city council hearing on Jan. 8, 2008. It is at this time, we want to be sure to ask our elected officials to move this timely housing effort forward and to support them in their deliberations.

Let us not forget, by providing affordable housing for seniors, Oakridge Park serves a vital community need. Our town has many seniors, and approximately one in every four pays too much for housing every month. Ironically, the very people who for decades were devoted to creating Lake Oswego's strong sense of community, are being priced out of their homes by the very community they helped create.

This has be a decades-old issue, without a solution. Today, thanks to the skills and determination of our leaders, there is a community solution that deserves and needs the support of all of us, and Oakridge Park is the answer.

Alice Schlenker served as mayor of Lake Oswego from 1987 to 1996.