Ken Merdinger: Affordable housing proposal for Grass Valley |

Ken Merdinger: Affordable housing proposal for Grass Valley

Other Voices
Ken Merdinger

As a public school teacher for over 24 years, my focus has been on teaching children the skills they need for the future. But now in retirement, I have decided to take up a new call to arms.

The hot-button topics of homelessness and affordable housing continue to make the headlines and tug at my heart. Way more often than I would like to admit, worthy gestures on the part of our city, county, state and federal officials to solve these dilemmas have gone by the wayside. Not so much for lack of effort, but what I call a lack of “true grit.”

If John Wayne were still around I could imagine him moseying into our little mining towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City on a white horse, bellowing out in his western twang, “Life is tough, pilgrim. But courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” How sweet it would be to have this legendary cowboy tie up his horse at City Hall and give us all a shot of you-know-what. Of course, I don’t profess to be that rough and tough cowboy, but I firmly believe that the Duke’s own words aptly sum up what needs to happen:

“Give the American people a good cause, and there’s nothing they can’t lick.”

… I need a commitment from others who are willing to jump on the bandwagon for affordable housing.

For the past two years I have been working diligently to locate a property where my startup company can build an affordable micro-village in Grass Valley.

Gov. Newsom said in his State of the State Address: “If we want a California for All, we have to build housing for all.” I’ve done everything you’re supposed to: write a business plan, assemble a professional team, network in the community, and seek support from city and county officials.

Yes, I do have the financial means to get the project rolling, but now I need a commitment from others who are willing to jump on the bandwagon for affordable housing.

In order to help alleviate our housing crisis, my goal is to build a community of affordable cottages that those working minimum wage jobs can afford to purchase. After you peruse my website at, I hope you will consider joining with me to make Prospector Village a reality.

What I need at this stage is as much publicity as possible so others in our community and around the state and country will have the opportunity to contribute to our cause. What we are trying to do may seem insurmountable, but I believe that miracles are possible when people come together to solve a problem.

So, if there’s anyone out there (contributor, investor, volunteer, landowner, contractor) who shares my passion, please give a holler, or better yet, send me an email.

As John Wayne once said, “True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done.” I know my micro-village is a tall task, but sometimes you just have to have the Duke’s spirit.

Who knows? Perhaps through your commitment, other cities across our great nation will be spurred into action.

Ken Merdinger is the founder of H.E.L.P. (House, Empower, & Lift People). He lives in Nevada City. More information can be found at

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