NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor contributes to the community conversation on housing issues through a weekly column in the Daily World titled "Nailing it Down."


 Since 1999, the "Nailing it Down"articles have been published in the Daily World and other countywide weekly newspapers. NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County has collaborated with local newspapers, elected officials and local experts to publish articles covering hundreds of topics.



Nailing It Down

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December 1, 2019

Don’t you love how cities and towns can transform with a few sparkling lights this time of year?

The Downtown Aberdeen Association is busily preparing for Winterfest, Dec. 7 and 8. And, the folks in Montesano are industriously lighting their homes and businesses in preparation for Montesano’s Festival of Lights, Dec. 13-15.

Those festivals and beautifully lit buildings make things merry and bright and give pride to our communities.

This year, when the hardworking folks from the Hoquiam Beautification Committee looked into storage to examine their holiday decorations, what they found was in “pretty sad shape,” said Lynn Ogren, organizer.

“The wreaths, candy canes and lanterns are some 20 years old and are dirty and missing lights,” Lynn said.

The Beautification Committee, which is responsible for some amazing transformations of Hoquiam this summer by weeding and planting flower beds, creating new planters and updating signs and gardens, also wants to make the city sparkle in the winter.

“We l...

We love it that in Grays Harbor County our city cores are being spruced up by volunteers. Their efforts to seasonally decorate, plant flowers, weed and just in general help us put on our best face, not only helps attract business, it also makes it more pleasant for all of us to live here.

If you haven’t had a chance, take a drive to Hoquiam to see what that bevy of volunteers have done to the downtown core. (We wrote all about it last week.)

Aberdeen and Montesano also have active volunteer groups, plus city-sponsored projects such as new sidewalks and signage that truly make a difference.

However, it’s not just the public spaces that give people an impression of a city, each individual house and yard combine to influence how a community presents itself.

Therefore, showing the lovely place we live in the best light is up to all of us.

Today we will give some tips for you to do just that.



One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and we know that dealing with various “proje...

It’s amazing what a little inspiration and perspiration can do! Take a drive to downtown Hoquiam to see how volunteer efforts have beautified this city.

Thanks to some community-minded volunteers, the core of Hoquiam is getting spruced up with tidied parks, repainted signs and lots of planters full of bright flowers. And, the newly formed Hoquiam Beautification Committee says there’s more to come!

“We saw good things happening in Aberdeen with their committee and thought it would be nice to work the same sort of magic and spruce up things in Hoquiam,” said Sue Varland, one of the Hoquiam Beautification Committee’s many volunteers.

After Hoquiam City Council member Mary Stinchfield planted the idea of a volunteer group similar to the effort led through the Aberdeen Revitalization Movement’s Bloom Team --  organized by volunteers Bette Worth and Bobbi McCracken – a call went out to form a similar group in Hoquiam.  

In fact, the group consulted with McCracken. “She told us not to reinve...

The Grays Harbor County real estate market got off to a great start this year! In the first quarter, it took the top spot for the annual percentage change in the number of home sales of the 15 Western Washington counties.

Encouraging home ownership is one of the goals of NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor, so from time to time we like to share information about what’s happening in the local real estate market. Also, with the spring and summer being popular times to buy and sell houses, we thought we’d give you an idea of the current real estate climate.

Compared to the first three months of 2018, all of the 15 counties were down in sales, but Grays Harbor was by far the smallest decrease at 2.6 percent down. (For comparison, Mason County was down 10.3 percent, King County down 10.6 percent, Thurston County down 12.2 percent,  Pierce County down 14 percent and San Juan County down a whopping 32.3 percent.)

There is some speculation that very poor weather in February impacted the market the firs...

Ahh, spring! The time of year you feel the warmer weather, see the blossoming flowers and hear – and try to heed – the loud call of spring chores! Use that spring in your step this spring to tackle the tidying up that most of us need in and around our homes, garages and yards this time of year.

For many Grays Harborites, a chance for a free day to dump junk at the LeMay Transfer Station makes addressing the excess-stuff issue a no brainer!

We’re happy to pass along that once again many of the area’s municipalities are sponsoring free Spring Cleanup days at the LeMay Transfer Station or are bringing the containers to you.    Each has a little different arrangement, so make sure to read about your area and call your City Hall if you have additional questions.

Sorry to the folks living outside city limits; it’s been a few years now since Grays Harbor County has sponsored a cleanup for those living in the county. Budgets are tight! However, while there is no paid-for cleanup day for...

December 9, 2018

Nicholas Yuva has plenty of experience knowing the needs and concerns of landlords. Recently hired as the Landlord Mitigation Program administrator for the Office of Supportive Housing in the state’s Commerce Department, Yuva has spent more than 20 years as a landlord in Oregon and Utah.

This new program, which Yuva was hired to administer in July, aims to put to rest landlords’ concerns that their property might be damaged beyond the amount of a reasonable damage deposit or that subsidized tenants might leave them in the lurch with unpaid rent. It does so by offering to reimburse landlords for damages caused by subsidized tenants not covered by their deposit. No more need to require double damage deposits – you’re covered!

“My goal is to build landlord confidence in renting to subsidized tenants,” Yuva explained, adding that he has just finished a month-long tour of the state in which he talked with landlords and service providers about the new program.  In fact, we met him in person re...

December 2, 2018

Have you ever considered renting a house or apartment to someone who receives public assistance for housing? If you are a landlord who has avoided renting to someone receiving rental assistance money, this column is for you!

Recently two laws went into effects that directly affect landlords. Designed as a pair to help combat homelessness, they tackle the problem from two different angles.

The first one, RCW 59.18.040, makes it illegal to discriminate against tenants or potential tenants based on their source of income.  The second law, RCW 43.31.605, established the Landlord Mitigation Program, which makes it more attractive for landlords to rent to people with lower incomes who are receiving rental assistance by offering some financial protection for the landlords.

In a recent column, we discussed the first law, with the help of Cassie Lentz, the housing coordinator of Grays Harbor County’s Public Health and Social Services Department. Today, we will describe the other side of the coin,...

November 18, 2018

When it comes to homelessness, it can seem like a huge, complex problem and it is.  The number of homeless people keeps growing– but lasting answers, so far, have been allusive. Helpful changes are happening.

Thanks to a set of recently enacted state laws, we see some positive steps toward addressing certain aspects of the homeless and subsidized housing problem—something everyone working on the problems has been concerned about statewide.

In Grays Harbor, the best estimates are that up to 3,000 people are not stably housed. That is, some primarily rotate around staying with various friends and family, sleeping on couches, with no real place to call home. Of that number, some 500 to 700 are what you might consider “typically” homeless.  That is, they are sleeping in cars and under bridges or tarps with no real shelter at all.  Even in the foundation crawlspace under people’s homes!

Cassie Lentz, the housing coordinator for Grays Harbor County’s Public Health and Social Services Depar...

September 8, 2018

When should you call 911?

Most people know to call this emergency number when a house is on fire; a violent fight has broken out, and after hearing the crunch of a car crash.

Some people call 911 for the wrong reasons, such as a very minor health issue, a civil dispute or even loneliness. But, many more don’t call when they should, according to local law enforcement.

Protecting your home from burglars has been the topic of our column for the last two weeks. Today we want to extend that idea to being a watchful person and not being shy to call to report suspicious activity.

“It is an ongoing concern that people don’t report on non-emergency types of calls,” said Steve Shumate, the new Aberdeen Police Chief, who worked for many years as the chief criminal deputy at the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office.

“Another problem is that sometimes when people do call to report suspicious activity there is a delay in reporting it,” he said.

Neighbors noting people traveling from door to door without an obvio...

September 1, 2018

Do you want to make your house less attractive to criminals? Today we have a list of tips to help you do just that.

But first, we want to let you know about the possibility of joining a Neighborhood Block Watch Group, which has proven to decrease the crime rate in our area.

Right now there are 10 Neighborhood Block Watch Groups in unincorporated Grays Harbor, with the likelihood that more will be developed. In addition, if Aberdeen’s new police chief has his wish, new groups will be forming within Aberdeen.


In 2013, Steve Shumate, who was then the chief criminal deputy for Grays Harbor County, began the county’s first Neighborhood Block Watch Group at the request of a citizen living on East Hoquiam Road.

“She had been a victim of a burglary on two separate occasions with irreplaceable items that had been stolen and never recovered,” said Shumate, who began his new job as the Aberdeen Police Chief in July.

So Shumate educated himself about Neighborhood Block Watch programs...

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