The HMUC Story
Housing Matters Union County was started by Zion Lutheran Church in collaboration with community partners. Members of Zion entered into dialogue with social service, political, educational and various other leaders in Union County to learn about quality of life issues faced by residents. The issue that caught the most attention concerned housing insecurity for many public school children and the difficulty of overcoming barriers to access safe, affordable, stable housing for individuals and families.
In response, a table of over 25 agency representatives and community members who had a stake in housing access issues began to meet. This group became known as the Housing Issues Collaborative. The Collaborative met monthly to network. The first task was to learn about housing issues from the different perspectives of those at the table, and a year was spent listening to one another to understand the extent of housing barriers and to learn what various agencies were already doing to work with those barriers. The question before us was always: What can we do together to have an impact on access to housing in Union County?
At the end of the first year, Lisa Ladendorff of North East Oregon Network (NEON) was engaged to facilitate the group and move the work forward. Her first project was to develop an Asset and Gap Map so there would be a clear picture of the situation in Union County and an Aim and Driver Diagram so the collaborative had unified goals and direction. The name of the collaborative was changed to Housing Matters Union County (HMUC) and a formal membership criteria was established, as well as a governance structure with elected officers. Zion continues to act as convener.
The work of HMUC continues with the division of collaborative members into task groups to develop specific plans and take action. The collaborative currently has three years of funding for a full-time coordinator and a programming budget to further the impact of this vital work. Additional funding is being sought to expand the scope of HMUC.
Having safe, affordable housing is the first step toward stability for all individuals and families in Union County. HMUC welcomes partnership with organizations and individuals who share this commitment.
Meet Our Executive Committee
Lisa Ladendorff - Facilitator
Lisa is the Founder and current Development and Training Director of the Northeast Oregon Network, a health collaborative serving Northeast Oregon. She was instrumental in designing and implementing the NEON Pathways Community Hub, one of the only rural hubs in the nation. She provides training throughout the region on mental health, addictions and health topics in rural Eastern Oregon. Prior working at NEON, she served as the local public health administrator in Union County, and has a 25 year history of clinical practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Lisa has completed the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice Leadership Institute and the UCLA Health Care Executive Training Program. She is the 2016 National Health Network Leader, recognized by the National Cooperative of Health Networks. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Arizona, and a Masters in Social Work from Walla Walla University. In her spare time she is an avid knitter, reader and gardener, as well as lover of big dogs.
Cassidy Mills - Chair
Cassidy Porter is originally from Payette Idaho and has been in La Grande for 6 years. She is a dedicated Union County Warming Station volunteer and sits on their board of directors. Cassidy is a mother of three, and stepmother of two kiddos. Her family enjoys camping and being outdoors together! She can often be found volunteering in her children’s schools and helping in leadership roles. Cassidy is recovering addict with 4 years clean and being a person with lived experience in addiction and houselessness she is passionate about helping others.
Lenore Case - Vice Chair
Colleen Nelson - Convener
Pastor Colleen Nelson is retired from Zion Lutheran Church where she served for 5 years. While she was at Zion, the congregation sponsored the housing issues collaborative that eventually became HMUC. She currently represents Zion on the board. Pastor Colleen moved to Oregon from the midwest where she served congregations in Chicago and Battle Creek, Michigan. She holds a BS in English from Iowa State University and an M.Div from The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her family includes 3 married children and 6 grandchildren. For fun, she enjoys hiking, camping, sewing, reading and playing the flute.