NeahCasa got its start in February, 2005, as an informal meeting of folks interested in addressing community housing issues in the Nehalem Bay area of North Tillamook County, Oregon.
A varied group continued to meet once a month for the next year at the North County Recreation Center in Nehalem to educate ourselves about the issues, brainstorm solutions, and, increasingly, to undertake projects and sponsor events.
During those two years our meetings included sessions with Doug Longhurst from Housing Development Corporation in Washington County; Jim Tierney from Community Action Team in St. Helens; Destin Ferdun, an architect specializing in affordable housing design in Portland; Tasha Harmon, a community land trust expert from Portland; Lyn Messenger, a Tacoma affordable housing architect; Carol Snell from NW Oregon Housing Authority; local developer Tom Nash; and Janet Byrd from the Neighborhood Partnership Fund. The Mayors of both Manzanita (then Hugh McIsaac) and Nehalem (Shirley Kalkoven) attended meetings, as did two of our three Tillamook County Commissioners, Mark Labhart and Tim Josi.
NeahCasa was formally incorporated as an Oregon non-profit corporation in Summer 2005. Founding Board Members were Tom Bender, Kelly Benson, Lane deMoll, Gareth Ferdun and LeeAnn Neal.
Our first project, initiated in 2006, by Mike Cook (NeahCasa volunteer) and Glenna Gray (NeahKahNie School District Family Resource Counselor) was to work with CARE of Tillamook to raise $25,000 to create the Student Family Housing Project - a fund which makes available up to $500 to families in the NeahKahNie School District who are in danger of losing their housing or need help with utilities bills and the like. Funds came from a Meyer Memorial Trust Small Grant, US Bank, Windermere Realty of Manzanita and a large anonymous contribution.
Our second project was to sponsor a Tillamook County Housing Summit in the April 2006 – a chance for stakeholders from government, community agencies, realtors, lending institutions, churches and the general public to begin to understand the extent of the problems in the area.
In the fall of 2006 Board Members began attending trainings to become a Community Land Trust so that when houses and land began to be acquired, they would remain affordable in the community in perpetuity. We reincorporated as a trust in Summer, 2007.
In January 2008, we received our 501c3 tax exempt status from the IRS (hooray!) Funds donated to NeahCasa are now tax-deductible. We are grateful to the US Bank Foundation for a $5,000 grant that allowed us to pay for some of our time prepare our application and enabled us to hire the Community Development Law Center to help with the process.
Onward and Upward.