Friday, March 25, 2005

Awards to bring awareness to community housing

Nominate your favorite neighbor or developer

Express Staff Writer

Rebekah Helzel

For a new local nonprofit group, it is high time people were recognized for their efforts to bring affordable housing to the Wood River Valley.

"Our goal is to recognize those citizens that have demonstrated a strong commitment to provide more affordable housing in the Wood River Valley," said Rebekah Helzel, founder and director of Advocates for Real Community Housing.

The group is seeking nominations for two awards. The YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) Award will be given to the person or neighborhood group that embraces and supports community housing in their neighborhood.

The Developer with Community Vision Award will be given to a developer who goes above and beyond what is required by zoning ordinances and contributes to the quality of community life in Blaine County.

The awards will be issued in June during the first ever Blaine County Community Housing Week.

"The award, along with the housing week, are stepping stones to raise awareness among our community of this critically important issue," Helzel said. "Without increasing our supply of community housing, we lose firefighters, teachers and other professionals who would not otherwise be able to live here."

The Community Housing Week will run from June 19 to June 25. The seven-day event will feature a series of lectures and seminars focused on housing issues facing Blaine County.

There will be sessions for homebuyers, real estate professionals, developers, employers, government officials and others involved in land-use planning.

The event is co-sponsored by Advocates for Real Community Housing and the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority.

Advocates for Real Community Housing is a nonprofit citizen advocacy group for affordable housing, sponsoring and participating in initiatives that promote increased access to affordable housing in Blaine County.

How to get involved:

To nominate your favorite neighbor or developer, write a letter to ARCH, P.O. Box 1292, Ketchum, ID 83340. The deadline to submit nominations is May 15. For additional information about the awards or housing week, call 726-4411.

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