Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Housing Authority hires assistant director

Express Staff Writer

Drew Sanderford arrived in the Wood River Valley just in time to really sink his teeth into his new job.

As associate director of the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority, Sanderford is helping work out the logistics of the numerous activities slated for Blaine County's first Community Housing Week—a weeklong event designed to raise awareness about one of the most serious problems facing resort communities throughout the United States today.

Sanderford, 22, is a quick study. On Monday, his third day on the job, he already had a firm grasp on the Wood River Valley's history in affordable housing. He knew projects containing deed-restricted units by name. He talked ably about the dynamics that make the Wood River Valley what it is.

"I've just been trying to listen and soak up as much as I can," he said.

Sanderford arrived at his new job Thursday, June 16. He hails from Charlottesville, Va., where he attended the University of Virginia and interned for two nonprofit organizations that helped lay a foundation for his new job in Blaine County.

But he's no stranger to Central Idaho. As a participant in The Wild Gift program last year, he spent 20 days in the backcountry. The Wild Gift is a three-part program designed to give "outstanding youth, ages 18 to 30, a compelling experience in deep wilderness and to support their commitment to a one-year, self-designed leadership project that will advance wildlands stewardship and the development of sustainable human community and lifestyle."

Struck by the area and some new friends, Sanderford returned last spring to ski.

"I met a lot of people and decided I wanted to move to Sun Valley," he said. "This was the most appealing."

Now, as the valley's assistant chief housing advocate, he said he is ready to help the local community work toward a sustainable work force.

"If you have a fire in Ketchum and the firefighter lives in Bellevue, it's going to take him 30 minutes to get there," he said, acknowledging the harsh reality of the effects of ever-escalating real estate in the Wood River Valley.

"I'm excited to be here," he said. "I'm excited to learn as much as I can, and I encourage people to call and ask questions."

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