History of the Office of Rural & Farmworker Housing (ORFH)

The seeds of the entity that was to become the Office of Rural & Farmworker Housing (ORFH) were planted in 1977, when Northwest Rural Opportunities (NRO) hired a Housing Program Coordinator in Grandview, WA to develop a farmworker housing project in Granger.

The concept was compelling—ensure that those willing to work hard in one of the most dangerous industries, and one that is key to the state’s economy—agriculture--could afford decent housing and still have enough money to meet their basic needs. The project won initial funding from Rural America in Washington, DC.

This model proved that when working people have a safe and stable place to call home, it enhances their efforts to build better lives for themselves and their families over the long term. Things went so well that Rural America provided additional funding, and in 1978, ORFH began to develop its own identity—first as an informal association under the NRO wing, with an advisory council and a newly established office in Olympia as well as a move of the original Coordinator from Grandview to an office within the Yakima Housing Authority’s then E. 8th Street, Yakima location. ORFH came into its own as an organization in 1979.

During its first 35 years of operation, celebrated in 2013, ORFH created nearly 1,500 units of affordable, quality housing in rural Washington State; providing 7,500 individuals with a decent, stable place to live. Through these efforts, more than $150 million in public and private resources were invested in local communities through the development of much needed housing, creating hundreds of construction jobs and numerous ancillary benefits like improved health and better educational attainment.

Today, ORFH is headquartered at 1400 Summitview Avenue, #203 in Yakima, Wash. and with a staff of 8, continues to develop affordable, quality housing throughout rural Washington state. ORFH works tirelessly to advocate for housing for working families, senior citizens and others in rural areas, seek partnerships to execute innovative solutions to such issues as the aging of existing development portfolios, and educate decision-makers about policies and programs and their impact on the delivery of affordable housing.

Awards and Honors

  • 2016 – ORFH Executive Director Marty Miller elected President of the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC) starting in 2017

  • Dedication to affordable housing (that) creates opportunities and fosters hope for communities, National Equity Fund, for Granger Family Housing, Prosser Senior Housing & Ranier Park Apartments

  • 2014 – Third Place Heritage University/Enactus United States National Exposition Award, for designing the Adentro – Low-Income Entrepreneurial Development Program

  • 2013 –Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification, US Dept. of the Treasury

  • 2010 –Development of Distinction Honorable Mention, Novogradac, for Reino del Cielo

  • 2009 – Award of Excellence for Affordable Housing Built Responsibly, The Home Depot Foundation

  • 2008 – Instrumental in PL 110-289 legislation/campaign, National Housing Trust Fund

  • 2007 – Ally of the Year Award, Next Step Housing, for Pear Tree Place

  • 2006 – Friend of HAC Award, Housing Assistance Council

  • 2005 – Certificate of Appreciation for collaborative efforts, dedication and commitment to ensuring equal using for all persons, Northwest Fair Housing Alliance

  • 2004 – 25 years of outstanding leadership in addressing the housing needs of farmworkers in the state of Washington, Rural Community Assistance Corporation

  • 2003 – Three decades of partnership producing affordable housing in Grant County, Housing Authority of Grant County

  • 2000 – Friend of Housing Award, Washington State Housing Finance Commission

  • 1999 – HUD Best Practices Award of Excellence, US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development