City of Medford approves veterans affordable housing project

MEDFORD, Ore. – Columbia Cares, a nonprofit that helps local veterans, has been officially approved to expand their housing project between Columbus and Stewart.

When finished, two buildings will be built on the empty grass lot, providing homes for about 16 veterans at risk of homelessness

“Housing is really a foundational need for every single person. So if we start by providing that foundation then every area of life can improve,” says Jennifer Sewitsky, Communications Director for Columbia Cares.

However, what sounds like an innocent project, is raising concern for neighbors

“We’re happy with a veterans homeless program, obviously,” Chris Durham, a neighbor who feels Columbia Cares hasn’t been 100% honest with the project. “I’m a veteran I think they need care. But if they could describe any services to be provided at this facility in a residential neighborhood that would shed light on whether how well you support or whether you’d really had concerns.”

Durham says since the project was announced, the name, address and even intent of the affordable housing project has changed.

Columbia Cares says they’ve try to answer all of these concerns, but also have to protect the privacy of their tenants.

“We don’t have any problems having a dialogue with neighbors around questions and concerns that we can answer. So we do want people to feel like they can contact us by phone or by email,” Sewitsky said.

Despite concerns from the community, City of Medford Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the veterans affordable housing project.

“As pointed out by the applicant, this is really a hand out– up if you will to those veterans to transition from homelessness to a much more stable environment to hopefully improve their lives,” Commissioner Rick Whitlock said.

Columbia Cares says its next step is submitting permits to break ground on the current lot.

If you’d like more information on the Stewart Ave. Apartments visit www.communitycares.info or call Columbia Cares at (541) 858-8170.

NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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