According to Frank Morrison executive director of the Community House, a long-term homeless recovery center, stabilizing his resident’s income is the biggest obstacle they face because half have no income at all and the other half are below the poverty line when they arrive. Even if affordable housing was an option in the area, they don’t have the resources to afford it.
Since 2014, the demographic of those that live at the Community House has dramatically shifted. Of the one hundred families living in the house, eighty percent are single moms and nearly half the population are children under the age of six.
"There is no doubt there is a lack of opportunity in the area to make an income that is going to be sufficient for one individual with two or three children," says Frank. “We need jobs that are not minimum wage. Instead, we need $15 an hour on up, with benefits.”
Today in Cowlitz County, the majority of employment opportunities are minimum wage with few, if any benefits. Frank believes the Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) methanol facility would introduce hope to so many. The many people he sees daily who have hit rock bottom could begin to stabilize and get to a financial place where bills are not hanging over their heads.
“It’s like you’re digging in dry sand. The sand keeps falling in the hole and you continue to shovel it up, making no progress. Northwest Innovation Works could help backfill.”
NWIW’s focus on environmental preservation is yet another reason for Frank and the community to have hope. Good paying jobs with an eye to responsibility for the environment ensures a win-win for a community in desperate need of an economic rebirth while preserving the beauty of the area. Frank notes that although some groups are saying “not here, not now,” he hopes they consider another aspect of the project.
“By having a company come in and create jobs that also protect the natural environment, it allows the community to instead focus on another important environment that’s at stake in all of this – the home environment.”
“With good paying jobs, we can focus on raising our children, taking them hiking in the mountains, not worrying about smog and pollution, and allowing them to enjoy what we’re all working to preserve.” Those parents deserve an opportunity to achieve and develop a strong and healthy home environment, too.