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CAT, three other cities fund housing study

Community Action Team received financial support, partnership from the city of St. Helens this week

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Community Action Team is working to conduct a housing market study in St. Helens. The non-profit asked several cities in the Columbia County area for financial support to conduct the survey.Community Action Team, the nonprofit housing and social assistance agency serving Columbia County, is moving forward with a housing market study with support from several cities including St. Helens, Rainier and Scappoose.

The St. Helens City Council became the most recent supporter with a unanimous vote on Wednesday, Sept. 21 to approve a donation of up to $10,000 to CAT to gather data on what housing market needs in the community are.

In August, Jim Tierney, the director for CAT, urged the St. Helens City Council to become a financial partner in pursuing the study which would give CAT a better idea of the community’s needs.

Earlier this year, CAT’s human investment program coordinator, Martha Olmstead, reported the agency had to return grant funding tothe U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development due to a lack of low-income rental properties eligible through the federal department’s assistance programs.

CAT’s Executive Director Jim Tierney explained that

information from the study could be given to local

developers to give them an idea of estimated costs to build in the area and what buyers

in Columbia County can truly afford based on the com-

munity’s current housing market.

City Administrator John Walsh added that housing studies are best utilized when conducted in conjunction with a larger project, since the information gathered points out problem areas but doesn’t necessarily provide information on how to remedy those issues.

Tierney said CAT has already received $5,000 from Rainier and several hundred dollars from Scappoose to fund the study. CAT also secured an unrelated capacity building grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust early this year, some of which could be used to conduct property management or other projects as the nonprofit sees fit, Tierney explained.