For their tireless efforts to boost affordable housing in the Wood River Valley, Len Harlig and Dale Bates will each be presented with awards Thursday night at Ketchum's nexStage Theatre during the second annual Community Housing Week.
Bates, owner of Living Architecture in Ketchum and a longtime advocate of affordable housing in Blaine County, will be the recipient of this year's "Unsung Hero" award. Harlig, a former Blaine County commissioner and member of numerous citizen committees, will be presented with this year's "YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard)" award.
"Dale has dedicated his life to building sustainable, livable, walkable and, yes, affordable housing," said Michael Carpenter, president of Advocates for Real Community Housing (ARCH), which along with the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority is hosting this year's housing week. "Many families in this community have Dale to thank for their ability to live here, not just survive. We all owe him a great deal for his vision and persistence."
Bates designed The Fields, the county's first community housing project, in 1998. It is located in Ketchum.
According to Lesley Andrus, ARCH's secretary, Bates persisted despite initial opposition, and his project eventually transformed the community's stereotypes about affordable housing.
"With many more remarkable developments in design and build-out phase, he will continue to contribute to the vitality and livability of our community for decades to come," Carpenter added.
The YIMBY award is given to someone who embraces and supports community housing in their own neighborhood.
"Len has been working for affordable housing in this valley for literally decades," Carpenter said. He helped the housing authority get off the ground and regularly attends public meetings speaking about the importance of affordable housing.
"Len continues to dedicate enormous time and energy to insuring that we have housing in his back yard," Carpenter said. "We are lucky as a community to have someone working so hard for us day in and day out."
Harlig and Bates will be recognized at 7 p.m., just before Conrad Egan, one of the nation's foremost experts on community housing, delivers a keynote speech.
Community Housing Week officially begins today and runs through Friday with a variety of lectures, presentations and entertainment at nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. Housing information booths will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. all three days.