housing authority

OKANOGAN – A reception is planned Tuesday, Jan. 28, to honor the Housing Authority of Okanogan County’s 2019 homeless hero and landlord of the year.

Christina Bartell is the homeless hero, and Greg and Charlene Helm are landlords of the year, said Executive Director Nancy Nash-Mendez.

The reception will be at 6 p.m. at Omak City Hall, 2 N. Ash St.

“Community members like Christina, Greg and Charlene make everyday contributions to addressing the needs of the homeless and those that need affordable housing in Okanogan County,” said Nash-Mendez. “It is a pleasure to work with them, and I hope the whole community will come join us in celebrating as we honor their contributions to our community.”

Each year, the housing authority selects a homeless hero and landlord who support the authority’s mission by assisting residents of Okanogan County, acquiring and retaining affordable housing while strengthening communities by removing barriers, empowering dignity and building trust, said Nash-Mendez.

Bartell works as a nurse at Confluence Health, and frequently provides care to patients facing homelessness or who are in a housing crisis. She advocates for her patients by connecting them with housing authority resources or using her personal time to contact landlords for clients who desperately need to find a safe and secure place to call home, said Nash-Mendez.

“Christina’s dedication to her patients and to safe and affordable housing in Okanogan County is a gift to the community,” said Yvonne Bussler-White, chairwoman of the housing authority board of commissioners. “She reminds us all how important it is to have a home.”

As landlords, Greg and Charlene Helm choose to work with housing authority clients.

“I have learned many valuable lessons from the Helms, such as giving people second chances and being patient with those experiencing homelessness,” said Malia Campbell, housing specialist. “Homelessness creates a lot of stress and instability in people’s lives.”

The Helms always ensure their rental units are safe and affordable for clients and often notify the housing authority when they anticipate a vacancy, said Nash-Mendez.

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