Remembering FR. Loren Kerkof

Upon moving to Tigard in 1989, I joined St. Anthony Catholic Church and attended several meetings of the Social Justice committee which Fr. Loren chaired. A few years later in 1992, he described an experience he had while helping a young Hispanic man locate housing where he and his pregnant wife could be safe away from her alcoholic father with whom they had been living. Fr. Loren learned firsthand about the obstacles and difficulties faced by low-income earners and the lack of affordable safe housing in the Tigard area. The income ratios used to obtain a rental were prohibitive as were the additional upfront fees imposed by landlords. This experience was so frustrating that he was inspired to issue an invitation from the pulpit to parishioners the following day to attend a meeting to explore ways that solutions to this problem could be found. At our first meeting on September 29th, 1992, 20 people attended, including representatives from neighboring churches that had been contacted.

During the following year, as we continued to learn about non-profit formation, creating a mission statement, and developing a strategic plan for moving forward, many people lost interest and left the group. A potential merger with the Tigard Christian Ministries shelter was explored but due to differing long-term goals, this did not materialize. Ultimately, with only four of us remaining, the decision was made to take a leap of faith and create our own non-profit. And so, Community Partners for Affordable Housing came to be. On October 7th, 1993, our first Board of Directors was selected, and final approval was given for our Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation which were then filed with the State. I was elected to serve as President, Marge Jozsa as President-Elect, Fr. Loren as Secretary and Doug Plambeck as Treasurer.

Fr. Loren continued in his role as Secretary for many years. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the mid-2000s and underwent surgery which was very debilitating and required a long recovery. However, his interest in CPAH never lagged and he stayed in communication throughout his illness until his death in August 2010.

Fr. Loren’s entire priesthood was dedicated to the service of the poor and marginalized in our society. As stated in a letter written by CPAH’s Board of Directors prior to his passing, “Your leadership provided the defining moment when a concern for affordable housing became a plan for affordable housing in the Tigard Tualatin area. Your call from the pulpit brought together a dynamic group of grassroots leaders to tackle this issue together.” Without his call to action and ongoing leadership and inspiration, affordable housing would not have become a reality in our community.

On October 12, 2023, CPAH will celebrate its 30th year as a non-profit developer of affordable housing. I know Fr. Loren would be proud of its successes and grateful for all of the donors and partners that have supported CPAH’s work.


– Mary Swintek Owen

CPAH’s Co-founder and Former Board President