Chapter 7 – “A New Addition” – Tillamook County Pioneer


From the Tillamook County Housing Commission Outreach Committee

Did you know that Tillamook County has a new Housing Director? As you may know, there is a serious shortage of labor and affordable housing to meet the needs of our citizens. Since 2019, fifteen of your neighbors have volunteered as members of the Tillamook County Housing Commission. Together, we are working to find and promote solutions to the housing problems in our county. Now we are grateful to be joined by a full time salaried housing manager: Thomas John “TJ” Fiorelli. Her position is to serve as a liaison between the county and the Housing Commission as well as to liaise with community members, agencies and housing interests throughout the region. TJ clearly brings us a wealth of experience, advanced professional training and smart ideas that can help us solve the housing crisis.

TJ Fiorelli comes to us at the start of his construction career where he has worked on large projects, from healthcare facilities and multi-family housing to infrastructure expansions and new planned developments. Then, in 2009, as he puts it, “I joined the ranks of skilled technicians who were made redundant as the recession hit the national economy.

Newly married and looking for a fresh start, TJ and his wife moved to Eugene where he became the first person in his family to enroll in college. He studied planning, public policy and management, then obtained a master’s degree in public administration. When he has completed his current work on his doctorate. in landscape architecture, he will be a proud “triple duck”, with three degrees from the University of Oregon! After teaching for several years, TJ is now drawn to a life of direct work with communities and professionals.

TJ chose to settle in Tillamook because of the natural beauty and because he was impressed with the collaborative problem-solving skills he sees here. He comments that “Tillamook County is doing an impressive job putting aside the differences and coming together to solve the problems.”

After taking the job in October, TJ recalls that the first question was “Can we find housing ?!” He said, “We were fortunate enough to see the one and only vacancy on Craigslist 15 minutes after it was listed. We signed a lease and sent a deposit without ever meeting the owner or visiting the unit. That’s what it took to get accommodation here. It was our one and only option, if we hadn’t taken it I wouldn’t be here.

Fiorelli and his wife have a one-year lease while they develop a duplex on the property they bought. “Our goal is to provide a long term rental for someone. We can have a positive impact for at least one family by creating housing, ”he said.

TJ sees Tillamook County as a place where he can contribute and make a difference.

He goes on to say, “Over the course of my career, I have learned what it takes to work with a team of diverse stakeholders and I am naturally drawn to complex challenges. I have worked as a town planner, taught as an assistant instructor in university planning and design studios, guided private landowners through pre-development due diligence and land use requests, and helped government and nonprofit teams write several successful grants.

TJ recognizes that chronic housing shortages, market fluctuations and the personal toll they have taken on individuals, families and businesses are emotional. This can confuse decision-making or limit our ability to see the full range of potential solutions. “As a housing coordinator, my work to develop and support programs with the Housing Commission must begin with evaluation measures and measurable results supported by research. “

Fortunately, Fiorelli can build on the studies already undertaken for the Housing Commission. He notes: “We have the statistics in the analysis of housing needs (2019) and in the number of homeless at any given time. We have the feeling of employees struggling to live where they work and employers affected. “

TJ would like to better understand what mix of housing and what types of housing people in our communities would like to see developed. And how do we find a balance between housing needs and the wishes / wants / visions of the community. He says, “Just as there is no single cause for the housing crisis, there is no silver bullet or quick fix. There is much we can do at the local level to resolve our housing crisis by strengthening relationships and leveraging our human and social capital.

“There will naturally be many concerns, ideas and questions that people in our communities will have about how we work to find solutions. We will not always agree on how to meet these challenges. The goal is to respect and collaborate with each other, weigh the compromises and commit to the solutions that flow from the process.

Early in his time here, Fiorelli took to heart these words of wisdom shared by County Commissioner Erin Skaar: “In order to bring everyone to the table, we need to approach our challenges with a responsible mindset. abundance, rather than a scarcity state of mind. “

“Put simply,” TJ concludes, “we have to work together to create more housing. “

The Housing Commission is delighted to welcome TJ Fiorelli as its head and join our community.

This story is brought to you by the Tillamook County Housing Commission outreach effort to increase workforce housing in Tillamook County. For more housing stories and information, visit www.co.tillamook.or.us/bc-hc. If you have a housing story to share, email it to TillamookCoHousingCommission@gmail.com.


Comments are closed.