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GRANDVIEW - For a non-profit organization that develops affordable housing there's probably no better way topicture of ground breaking for project spend a day than to cut the ribbon on a brand-new affordable housing complex.   Well, actually there is a better way - to break ground later on the same day in the same community for even more affordable housing.

Just ask folks with Catholic Charities Housing Services of the Yakima Valley who did exactly that on a bright, but chilly October day in Grandview, Washington. Named for its great views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, Grandview is a city of just under 11,000 on Interstate 82 halfway between Yakima to the northwest, Kennewick to the southeast.

Thanks to the waters of the mighty Columbia and a long growing season, Yakima Countyand its 1.6 million cultivated acres, reported the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2007 Census of Agriculture, produce more apples and hops than any other county in the nation.  Its 3,500 farms produce more sweet cherries and melons, pears and nectarines, peas and, dairy and meat products than any other county in Washington state.

It’s farm country. And where there are farms, there are farm worker - and their families.  And where there are farm worker families you will find families in as much need of decent, sanitary and affordable housing as any other group of families in America. Which is why Catholic Charities Housing Services is hard at work in Grandview and many other communities up and down the Yakima Valley.

picture of ribbon cuttingJoined by the Bishop of Yakima, the Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Grandview Mayor Norm Childress and Representative John McCoy, chairman, Representative Sherry Appleton, vice chair , Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos and Representative Norm Johnson of the Washington House Committee on Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs, on this October Catholic Charities also celebrated  the completion and dedication of its second multi-family rental complex in Grandview – Sor Juana Ines Couth named in honor of the 17th century Catholic sister and poet.

Built in less than a year with funding from Federal low income housing tax credits provided by the State and HUD funds provided by the Yakima County Home Consortium, the 41 two, three and four bedroom apartments provide much-needed affordable rental housing to some 160 moms, dads and kids in mostly farm worker families earning 60 percent or less of area median income.  It’s the second multifamily complex Catholic Charities has developed in Grandview.

They’re already a big hit.  “It’s very comfortable living here,” resident Linda Diaz told KIMA-TV. And “my kids really like the playground.”

And it looks like the hits will on coming in Grandview. The Bishop, the Mayor, legislators and guests also took time to break ground for seven, energy-efficient, “self-help” houses for first-time homeowners. A partnership of Catholic Charities and the Office of Rural Farmworker Housing, each house will be a labor of love as their future owners will roll-up their sleeves and, with the help of other volunteers, build the houses themselves. That, in turn, will – combined with a modest subsidy of HUD Self Help Homeownership Opportunity Program funds provided by Community Frameworks - help reduce the overall cost of their new home and, thus, the mortgage they’ll seek through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

It’s a perfect and long-awaited opportunity for Lorena Ramirez, “a single mom and working woman” who told KNDO-TV "I've rented, lived back with my parents, rented. Just back and forth a lot of moving.” Right now, she’s just “trying to get out on your own."

Mayor Childress, reports The Yakima Herald, thinks Catholic Charities and the families it helps are good neighbors.”  Catholic Charities Housing Services housing “very clean and we don’t have any complaints about it.”

No surprise. In communities where it’s developing affordable housing up and down the Yakima Valley, s Catholic Charities Housing Services director Bryan Ketchum explained to The Herald, we want to “be sure that the homes that we build are assets to the community and add value to the community.”  And for proof you need look no farther than Grandview.

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