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.

Jen Goodman - Chair

Jen is the Family and Community Partnership Manager for Eastern Oregon University Head Start. She earned her Master of Social Work Degree from Portland State University in June of 2018.  Jen has participated in Housing Matters Union County since its origination and helped to write grant applications for the group as part of her Social Work field education.  Jen is a single mom with 5 children ranging from age 20 to 4.  Jen experienced the reality of housing insecurity a several points in her journey of single motherhood and is grateful for the opportunity to work with the collaborative to address this vital issue.

Chris Evans - Vice Chair

Chris Evans is the Community Development Coordinator at the local Department of Human Services district, assisting in the vision of safety, health and independence for all Oregonians.  Previously, Chris served children and families as a case manager at DHS.  He also has experience managing emergency services and transitional housing programs at a community action agency.  Chris received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon.  Having grown up in La Grande, Chris enjoys biking around Union County with his family and also loves camping and fishing in his spare time.

Ruth Zemke - Convener

Ruth Zemke is Council President for Zion Lutheran Church, which is Convener for Housing Matters Union County. Ruth has been a part of Zion's conversations with people and organizations, researching what residents of Union County saw as their greatest need, research that became the basis of the group that has become HMUC. Ruth has a person interest in HMUC because her daughter has experienced housing difficulties in the past. Ruth is retired and enjoys spending time volunteering at her church and camping and fishing with her husband.