Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Housing group announces leadership awards

Awards luncheon features top HUD official and Sen. Clint Stennett

The Ketchum-based nonprofit group Advocates for Real Community Housing announced Monday the winners of three newly created awards designed to recognize strong advocates of community housing in Blaine County.

The awards will be presented at a luncheon at nexStage Theatre in Ketchum on Friday, June 24, as part of the Community Housing Week sponsored by ARCH and the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority. The keynote speaker at the luncheon will be Pamela Hughes Patenaude, assistant secretary for community planning and development at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. State Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, will present the awards.

The first award, the YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) Award, is given to a person or neighborhood group that embraces and supports community housing in their own neighborhood. This year's winners are Andy and Alice Schernthanner, who according to ARCH "have demonstrated many years of helping working residents live in Ketchum." The Schernthanners were the prior owners of the Ketchum property on which The Fields complex, which is the first deed-restricted housing project established in Blaine County, is now located.

"It was because of their vision and persistence that a community housing project was finally built in this valley," said Rebekah Helzel, director of ARCH.

Helzel noted that over several years the Schernthanners have provided housing units to working families at below-market rental costs.

The second award is the Unsung Hero Award, given to a resident who has consistently advocated for affordable housing in the Wood River Valley. That award is being given to Pam Morris, publisher of the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper.

"It is hard to think of anyone who has been the voice and conscience on this important issue more ardently than Pam Morris," an ARCH press release stated. "Pam has continually brought the need to the attention of the political leaders of the valley for over 20 years, both through the consistent coverage, editorial and education pieces in her paper and her leadership in exploring and presenting the options to the community at large."

The third award is the Developer with Community Vision Award, which is 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. This year's winner is Clear Creek LLC, whose principals are George Kirk and Bob Kantor. Clear Creek is the developer of the Quail Creek project planned for a site adjacent to state Highway 75, just south of St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

"Clear Creek should be applauded for exceeding the county's requirements for community housing," Helzel said. "In addition to including more affordable units in the plan than mandated, the design of the neighborhood itself is a thoughtful, well-designed rural village, close to town, and with real community-oriented design. They, along with the architect, Dale Bates, should serve as an inspiration to other local developers."

The keynote speaker at the awards luncheon, Patenaude, is responsible for more than $8 billion in assistance to America's communities. She has extensive experience in public administration, housing, government relations, community economic development and public policy. Patenaude will address housing issues from a national perspective. The title of her speech is "Working together to provide affordable housing."

"We're very fortunate to have such an experienced, knowledgeable government official travel to Ketchum for this event," Helzel said. "I know those who attend will come away with a greater appreciation for the challenges other communities across the country also face in providing and maintaining an adequate supply of affordable housing."

The speech begins at 11:30 a.m. Tickets for the luncheon are $15 and are available at all Iconoclast Books locations.

The awards are part of the Community Housing Week, which will run through June 25. The event is featuring lectures, seminars, education courses, documentary films, tours of deed-restricted housing and a day-long housing fair. There are sessions for homebuyers, real estate professionals, developers, employers, government officials and others involved in land-use planning.

ARCH is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of, and supporting solutions to, affordable housing in the Blaine County area.

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