The Missing Middle Housing Fund is fortunate to have a growing and diverse group of business and community leaders working together to create more workforce housing solutions. Our hope is that you will learn a little bit more about each of us - our backgrounds, interests, and passions – and how we are united by a shared sense of purpose and commitment to creating more affordable workforce housing.
Meet Abisha Stone, Yamhill County Economic Development Mgr., Strategic Economic Development Corporation (SEDCOR)
The Missing Middle Housing Fund’s newest Board Member, Abisha Stone, knows first-hand about the challenges of housing and food insecurity. She, her sister and their mother were houseless on and off throughout her childhood in Southern California, where she worked several jobs from the age of 13. After graduating from high school, with some assistance from a teacher who took her in, she began a career committed to business and economic development to help strengthen the communities around her.
Abisha credits one of her first employers, David Truitt of Truitt Bros., a contract manufacturer of shelf-stable food products (now owned by Scottish producer Baxters Food Group), with encouraging her to get involved in the community and highlighting the impact a committed business owner can have. Her role in development there led to her involvement with Marion-Polk Food Share, where she served as a Board Member and eventually became VP of Operations, fighting to end hunger in the area. Her work with over 100 partner agencies and the community to distribute food to food pantries, foster homes, day-care centers, and senior organizations led her to her current role as the Yamhill County Economic Development Manager at SEDCOR. At SEDCOR, Abisha has spent the last five years helping businesses grow with the aspiration of building security for employees, and building healthy communities in Yamhill County.
Over the past few years, Abisha has led the efforts of the Newberg Workforce Housing Consortium (NWHC), comprised of employers such as A-dec and George Fox University, to identify workforce housing solutions that make housing more affordable and attainable in the Newberg area. Because the cost of housing is so high in Yamhill County, NWHC employers often experience challenges finding and retaining talent. A $3M award from the State of Oregon in 2022, championed by Representative Anna Scharf, was the catalyst that brought the NWHC and the MMHF together to explore creative solutions to reduce the time and cost to build at scale. The establishment of a revolving loan fund to invest these funds in Newberg, managed by the MMHF, brought Abisha to the MMHF Board in 2023 to oversee management of these funds.
We are thrilled to welcome Abisha to our Board, as she brings a unique personal perspective and unparalleled commitment to workforce housing development.
Get to know more about Abisha:
Why were you drawn to the Missing Middle Housing Fund?
The MMHF is doing something no other organization has yet. Nate and his team recognize that solving our housing underproduction crisis cannot come from more of the status quo – we have to find creative ways to build housing faster and at a lower cost. When the NWHC first met Nate in 2020, it was clear that he could offer a new and exciting approach to workforce housing creation. After receiving the $3M from the State in 2022, we invited Nate to rejoin our conversation to help provide guidance on what investment options were available. The MMHF’s partnership with the NWHC helped to move our initiative forward and we plan to invest in exciting new solutions that will result in more affordable workforce housing for area employers. Our establishment of a revolving investment loan fund to finance predevelopment costs will help to get more projects off the ground that can create a huge impact in our area. This is why I am so excited to be part of the MMHF Board and look forward to finding even more ways we can expand our reach to make a difference.
What role do you play on the team?
I currently serve as a Member of the Board as well as on the Finance Committee to provide oversight on management of the revolving investment fund for the NWHC. As an employee of SEDCOR and a member of the NWHC, I serve as the business facing partner in Yamhill, Marion, and Polk Counties.
What are some of your interests and passions?
I love to volunteer. Currently I serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with Marion County for kids who are in foster care. I spend time visiting the kids once a month and attend court hearings related to their cases. My role is to ensure that all decisions made by the court are in the best interest of the children. It makes me happy to know that I am looking out for these kids who are experiencing some of the same challenges I did while growing up. I am also an adventure seeker and enjoy exploring new things whether it be on the water in a kayak or in the kitchen learning new recipes. One of my favorite culinary experiences was learning to make pesto on a recent trip to Italy with some girlfriends.
Why is the development of more workforce housing so important to you?
Housing is a fundamental human need for families. The availability of more workforce housing means that people can worry less about finding a place to live and spend more time exploring the greatest opportunities within themselves. This ultimately will translate into increased productivity and the acceleration of economic growth, allowing our neighbors and our communities to thrive.