BINGEN — A virtual discussion focused on building awareness of what affordable housing is and sharing strategies to address this growing challenge throughout the Gorge will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14. The bi-state event will be hosted by Washington Gorge Action Programs (WAGAP), Mid-Columbia Community Action Council (MCCAC) and Mid-Columbia Housing Authority (MCHA).

“Housing is a challenge for all income levels across the region,” said Leslie Naramore, WAGAP’s executive director. “Those in low-income households have even greater difficulty in finding access to affordable housing. We want to open a discussion with policymakers to share ideas on what potential solutions exist to create more affordable housing opportunities.”

Participants will learn more about what affordable housing is, who it impacts in the area, and why advocating for effective policies and strategies matter. The discussion will focus on those that earn 80 percent or less of the Average Median Income (AMI).

An overview of affordable housing will be provided by Adria Buchanan, executive director of the Fair Housing Center for Washington.

The impact of the lack of affordable housing on low-income residents of underrepresented communities will be shared by two guests. Representing Comunidades, Ubaldo Hernández, senior organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper, will discuss impacts on Latino families, and Debra Whitefoot, executive director with Nch’i Wana Housing, will discuss impacts on Native families and share her years of experience with housing projects.

Other panelists will include local elected officials who are currently active in efforts to improve access to housing in their jurisdictions. The City of White Salmon is currently engaged with its council and planning commission in developing a new comprehensive plan which includes proposed increases in density levels to account for anticipated future housing needs. Mayor Marla Keethler will be on hand to share updates. During her time in office as a council member, Megan Saunders of the City of Hood River has worked to improve housing accessibility and availability, including future development planning. She will share her perspectives.

The roundtable will be held using the Zoom virtual platform. To participate, email info@wagap.org to request the meeting link.