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June 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter
June updates from the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy.
Published
In this article

Welcome Message from Commissioner Dan Ryan

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As a longtime resident of North Portland with deep roots in the City of Roses, and now as your Housing Commissioner, I am continuously in awe of our residents’ resilience.

Through community engagement and sincere dialogue, we come together when it truly matters—placing our neighbors’ wellbeing front and center.

I was so proud when Portland City Council unanimously approved my budget amendment recommended by the N/NE Housing Oversight Committee, and introduced by my office in May 2021, to add two permanent positions to support the ongoing work of the N/NE Preference Policy. This vital policy prioritizes historic residents of Portland’s oldest Black community, displaced by a harmful history of urban renewal and racially biased policies, for affordable rental housing and homebuying opportunities—and it provides families displaced from North and Northeast Portland a chance to return to their community.

With the additional $45 million City Council approved for new housing investments in N/NE Portland in the coming years, these new positions will play a crucial role in assisting current and former residents of the area access to stable, affordable housing opportunities.

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Portland Housing Bureau staff, the N/NE oversight committee members, community advocates, and partner organizations, for their tireless dedication and incredible work in creatively visioning and implementing the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy. Working together, we are charting a new course in N/NE Portland and helping to ensure the community’s priorities can be realized.

I want to wish everyone a happy Juneteenth—I am so pleased that the City and other communities nationwide have moved to adopt Juneteenth as an official holiday, and I hope all Portlanders take the opportunity to reflect on the harms of our past, the racial disparities BIPOC Portlanders face today, and how we can do better for all Portlanders in the future. 


Program Updates

N/NE Homebuyer Assistance Program

Front view of a single story house

Homeownership builds strong, stable communities and helps families build wealth to pass on to the next generation. When it was first adopted in 2015, the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy established a goal of creating 110 new homeowners by 2022 through down payment assistance loans and the development of new affordable homes for N/NE Portland families who were displaced, are at risk of displacement, or the descendants of families displaced due to urban renewal.

Status: To date, 88 families identified through the N/NE Preference Policy have become first-time homeowners. Of these, 89% are Black/African American, and PHB is on track to reach its goal by next year. 

“For homebuyers in the program, Portland’s current real estate market has made securing homeownership more of a zig zag than a straight path,” said Ira Bailey, a program coordinator for the homebuyer assistance programs. “However, by forming invaluable partnerships with local housing agencies, we’ve been able to gain momentum in creating more affordable opportunities.”

Asset Preservation Program

A homeowner smiles in front of her home

We’ve seen it before: a longtime neighbor passes away, leaving their loved one’s little choice but to sell the family home and move out of the neighborhood. It happens far too often. Yet, with the right planning, families can remain in their beloved community, while preserving their cherished family home for the next generation.

In November 2019, the Housing Bureau launched the Homeowner Asset Preservation Pilot to respond to community needs and advocacy by the N/NE Oversight Committee for legal estate planning services to stem the displacement of longtime homeowners and the loss of generational wealth in the N/NE Community.

The 20-month pilot program, set to conclude at the end of this year, provides free legal estate planning services to N/NE Portland homeowners as a tool to protect homeownership and transfer wealth between generations. The program prioritizes services to homeowners of color, longtime homeowners, and seniors and people with disabilities.

Through the program, the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH) in partnership with the Commons Law Center, were awarded funding to help community members develop estate plans and/or provide other legal services to help families preserve and protect their assets.  The pilot program’s goal is to enroll 45 households. As of March 31, 2021, the program had enrolled 21 households. In addition, the pilot program has held free Estate Planning 101 webinars for 83 attendees.

When Sandra Wadsworth, a long-term NE Portland resident initially received an introduction letter and brochure from AAAH describing the benefits of the program, she sat it down unsure she needed it. “My will was written on a piece of paper and stored in my bible,” she shared. Reflecting, and appreciating that her own parents both had living wills—making the process of transferring ownership of the family home in the Irvington neighborhood to Sandra easy—she contacted AAAH and took advantage of the free estate planning services. “My children, all six of them, now have a copy of my estate plan,” she shared. “It gives me peace of mind knowing the home will be in the family for generations to come.”

For information, and to find out if you qualify for free legal estate planning services, contact AAAH at 503-595-3517 or visit aaah.org.


Getting the Word Out

Apply for Housing Preference: Now Accepting Applications Year-Round 

The Housing Bureau will now begin accepting pre-applications for the N/NE Preference Policy rental housing waitlist year-round. This means the  application will have no closing date and  prospective applicants can submit an application at any time. The N/NE Preference Policy prioritizes applicants who were displaced, at risk of displacement, or descendants of families displaced by urban renewal in N/NE Portland for housing opportunities. The new year-round waitlist will be used to fill vacancies in City-sponsored rental housing in N/NE Portland as units become available.

The application is open to everyone, however, applicants are prioritized on the waitlist according to the amount of urban renewal activity that occurred where they or their ancestors live(d) in N/NE Portland.

For more information, visit N/NE Preference Policy.

Buildings leasing from this waitlist include:

  • Beatrice Morrow
    The Beatrice Morrow is an 80-unit building in the Eliot neighborhood located on 3304 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Of the 80 units, 59 are for preference policy applicants. 

  • Charlotte B. Rutherford Place
    The Charlotte B. Rutherford Place is a 51-unit building in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood located on 6905 N Interstate Ave. All 51 units are for preference policy applicants.

  • Garlington Place
    Garlington Place is a 52-unit building Eliot neighborhood located on 3043 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Of the 52 units, 31 are for preference policy applicants.   

  • King + Parks
    King + Parks is a 70-unit building in the Piedmont neighborhood located on 6445 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Of the 70 units, 49 are for preference policy applicants.

  • Magnolia II
    Magnolia II is a 50-unit building in the Eliot neighborhood located on 415 NE Fargo St. All 50 units are for preference policy applicants.   

  • Renaissance Commons
    Renaissance Commons is a 189-unit building in the Kenton neighborhood at 2133 N Argyle St. Of the 189 units, 185 are for preference policy applicants. 

  • Songbird
    Songbird is a 61-unit building in the Eliot neighborhood, located at 2140 N Williams Ave. Of the 61 units, 20 are for preference policy applicants.

Learn more about these Housing Opportunities.


Williams & Russell Update

The Williams & Russell project, a collaborative effort between the community-based Williams & Russell Project Working Group, Prosper Portland, Legacy Health, and the City of Portland, has made great strides in recent months. The project centers on Legacy Health returning to the community a vacant 1.7-acre block at North Russell Street and North Williams – previously referred to as “the Hill Block” after the historic name of the building that once occupied the site and served as the center of the African American commercial district from the 1940s to the early 1960s.

The community-elected Project Working Group (PWG), having worked to establish and drive a community-centered visioning and development process, is currently evaluating three development proposals for the site. The group will conclude its work once a development team is selected.

Next up will be transferring ownership of the property to the newly established non-profit group, Williams & Russell CDC, which will be led by a semi-public board of directors. Bryson Davis, co-Chair of the PWG, says the non-profit was structured to ensure the project’s original goals of generational wealth creation, affordable housing, and community business space are achieved.

Justice Rajee, who also co-Chairs the PWG, is pleased with the group’s progress and the decision to include affordable rental and home ownership housing opportunities. PHB has earmarked $7.5 million dollars for the project’s housing component.


N/NE Oversight Committee Accepting Applications

Do you have lived experience in N/NE Portland? Are you passionate about restorative justice and housing equity? Are you interested in influencing housing policies, strategies, and resources? Are you excited to represent your unique perspective and experiences as a person connected to the housing landscape in N/NE Portland and would like to help the City make housing more equitable for all its residents? Then we want to see your application!

The Portland Housing Bureau is now accepting applications for the N/NE Oversight Committee. The committee oversees implementation of the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy and reports annually to City Council on goals and accomplishments achieved by the Housing Strategy. 

Members are committed to meet every other month (currently via Zoom) for renewable terms of two years. No experience is needed to apply, and we will provide training. If you are interested in applying, please contact Leslie Goodlow at leslie.goodlow@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-4160. 


Calendar

JUNE 2021

  • 49th Annual Juneteenth Oregon
    Saturday, June 19 at 1 PM
    Click here to join this free, streaming community celebration

  • Juneteenth 4 The Culture Block Party at Billy Webb Elks Lodge
    Saturday, June 19 from noon to 5:00 PM | 6 North Tillamook Street

  • Good in the Hood: 28th Annual Celebration
    Saturday, June 26 - 27 from 3pm - 7pm  
    For more information, visit goodnthehood.org

JULY 2021 

  • N/NE Housing Oversight Committee Meeting
    Thursday, July 8, 2021 from 5:15pm - 6:15pm
    An agenda and meeting materials will be posted online here.