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June 2022 Newsletter

News Article
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The June 2022 edition of the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy Newsletter. A letter on our progress from Director Callahan. Strides in homeownership. The Oversight Committee releases their 2021 Annual Report. Spotlighting our partners at AAAH and PCRI. New Safe Rest Village on Carey Blvd.
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Welcome Message from Director Callahan

Portland Housing Bureau Director Shannon Callahan

It’s been seven years since the inception of the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy, a community-driven initiative to address displacement in North/Northeast Portland through targeted City investments in affordable rental housing, homebuying opportunities, and home retention programs for longtime residents. As our commitment to N/NE Portland has grown from a $20 million housing plan to a $135 million anti-displacement initiative, community oversight has remained a constant touchstone, guiding us through challenges, championing new programs, and holding us accountable.

Last month, the community-based N/NE Oversight Committee presented their annual report to City Council on the progress of the Housing Bureau and our partners in 2021 and the cumulative impacts of these programs over the last seven years, including steady increases in homeownership. While I watched the presentation, I was reminded of a day in April 2018, when the committee presented their 2017 report. The success of the program, and the very Strategy itself, were called into question. On that day, I, along with the entire team at the Housing Bureau, the Oversight Committee, and our community partners committed to making the homeownership program a success for the people it was meant to serve – families that had been displaced and gentrified out of N/NE Portland by the actions of City government. 

We did not shy away from these challenges, we learned from them. We increased our goal from creating 65 new Preference Policy homebuyers to 110 by the end of 2022. As of today, we have helped 108 N/NE Portland families become first-time homeowners.

While our work is not done, I want to thank our community partners for their critical role in the many successes of the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy to date. Thank you to the Portland Housing Center, PCRI, AAAH, Proud Ground, Habitat for Humanity, REACH CDC, Innovative Housing Inc., Bridge Housing, Central City Concern, Community Energy Project, Rebuilding Together, NAYA, Unlimited Choices, and the Latino Network.

I also want to extend my sincere appreciation to Dr. Steven Holt and the members of the N/NE Oversight Committee for lending their time, knowledge, insight, and passion to the vision of a brighter future for the N/NE Portland community. You have challenged us to do better. We are grateful for your guidance, your oversight, and your commitment.

Sincerely,

Shannon Callahan
Director, Portland Housing Bureau

“We refuse to believe there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Getting the Word Out

Annual Report 2021

On April 20, the N/NE Oversight Committee presented their 2021 Annual Report to Portland City Council.

Cover of the 2021 Portland's Housing Bond featuring an image of an affordable housing construction site.

The initial goals outlined in the Strategy when it was first brought to Council in 2015—creating new affordable
rental units, creating new homeowners, home retention strategies to prevent further displacement, and land banking—have all been met or surpassed. (With new funding allocated to the Strategy in the meantime, the Housing Bureau has increased those goals and is on track to meet them as well). Among other highlights, the presentation showed substantial strides in homeownership.

Through a combination of down payment assistance and construction of new affordable homes, the Strategy has created 108 new Preference Policy homeowners since 2017—and we are on track to surpass 110 this year. Of the new homeowners, 96% are BIPOC households. 

Graph labeled "Preference Policy Home Buyers Race/Ethnicity." Indicates that 80 homebuyers are Black/AA, 1 is Asian, 4 are Hispanic, 4 are multi-racial, and 5 are white.

Of the homes purchased through the Preference Policy, 83% had three or more bedrooms to accommodate families with children. The average sales price of these homes was $359,972.

The report also shows a steady ramp-up in the number of new Preference Policy homebuyers each year, from four homebuyers created in 2017 to 37 created in 2020.

The Portland Housing Center is currently working with another 152 Preference Policy households, including 10 currently ready to purchase and 33 more on track to becoming mortgage-ready in the next six months. 

Graph labeled "Total Preference Policy Homebuyers by year." indicates a consistent increase in new homebuyers each year between 2017 and 2021.

Ta'Neshia Renae, who purchased her home through the Preference Policy in 2021, also shared her story with City Council.

Image from Zoom call of Ta'Neisha Renae speaking to City Council

“The hardest lessons come with the biggest blessings. Me and my children continue to learn financial education, and without the grant, I would not have been able to qualify for a home in N/NE Portland. I am a disabled veteran on a fixed income, and so many wonderful things have happened since becoming a homeowner. I have new passions, such as gardening and wood working!”  Click here to see her full testimony.


Partner Spotlight

None of these accomplishments would be possible without the partnership of the many talented and dedicated organizations serving the N/NE Portland Community. Two of our key partners in this work are PCRI and the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), who have worked with us on this initiative from the very beginning. Learn more about the two women leading these important organizations below.

Cheryl Roberts

African American Alliance for Homeownership Executive Director Cheryl Roberts at an AAAH event.

Executive Director and founding member of the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), Cheryl Roberts (pictured right), vividly recalls AAAH’s earliest days as a group of business and housing professionals, and other community leaders coming together to support homeownership in the African American community. Twenty years later, their mission remains the same—to increase homeownership and economic stability for African Americans and other underserved individuals.

She credits much of their early success to Bernie Foster, owner of the Skanner. “At that time, folks were doing research on homeownership rates, comparing the City of Portland to the rest of the country, and taking a critical look into the activities of HUD and Fannie Mae. It was a good time to come together and pretty much hold Fannie Mae accountable,” she says.

The founding members became a planning committee, bringing people together to learn what the community really needed. What they learned was not surprising—everything centered on coaching. “When you're not part of a generation of homeowners, you miss out on important conversations about homeownership. We received a contract for $20,000 and became a legal entity in 2002. We now hold contracts totaling over $1 million.”

AAAH now offers a suite of services supporting homeowners and homebuyers, including pre-purchase counseling, and they continue to grow in their offerings, including the Housing Bureau’s Asset Preservation Program, which has assisted more than 45 households since 2019 with creating wills and protecting their property for future generations. 

AAAH’s partnership with PHB has been a long and important one, she says. “I've seen changes, and some growing pains, and one of the things I respect about the partnership with PHB is I always felt like my voice does matter, even more so now, and I think it’s because of the consistency of the relationship. That brings the confidence that people need. It's all about trust.”

Kymberly Horner 

Photo of Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. Executive Director Kimberly Horner.

Kymberly Horner, Executive Director for Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI) since 2019, is only the second person to serve in this position since the organization’s formation over 28 years ago. Originally from Thousand Oaks, California—where her father served as Mayor and a city councilmember for 18 years— Kimberly discovered her love for civic engagement at an early age and has worked in city government and economic redevelopment for the past 20 years.

A newcomer to Portland, she says she was drawn here by the City’s candid discussions about the past harm to residents, and especially the Black community. "I never heard of a government body, like the City of Portland, openly acknowledging the difficulties they caused the community when they displace residents," she says.

PCRI owns and operates over 700 units in North/Northeast Portland, and Kymberly views PCRI’s strong organizational foundation as key to managing these properties. She is thrilled about new housing opportunities coming online, like Kafoury Court, a development that will provide 40 units of permanent supportive housing for seniors.

"PCRI’s Pathway 1000 serves as a mitigation strategy that addresses residential retention policies and generational wealth building opportunities. It’s literally one of the most meaningful pieces of work I had seen come out of an affordable housing nonprofit."

Kimberly says she appreciates the partnership between PCRI and the Portland Housing Bureau and believes the Preference Policy is “a fabulous tool” in the effort to address the city’s legacy of displacement in the N/NE community. “Finally, a city has put something in place to try to undo some of the harm they caused when they used the power of eminent domain to take property away from families for public use.”  


News and Updates

New Carey Blvd Safe Rest Village

The City recently announced plans to locate a new Safe Rest Village on a Carey Blvd property currently occupied by an unsanctioned camp. The new Village will provide a safe resting spot for houseless community members, along with harm reduction measures and basic services, such as hygiene, case management, and behavioral healthcare.

Aerial photo showing land plots of the Carey Blvd. site with the new Safe Rest Village site highlighted.

This is not expected to impact overall plans for the site, which was purchased by PHB for homeownership development under the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy. We plan to proceed with community engagement, selecting a developer, and beginning pre-development activities while the site is being used as a Safe Rest Village (including six months of site preparation and three years of operation). Construction for the homeownership development is expected to begin in September 2025. We look forward to continuing discussions about the use of the site and the new development with the N/NE Oversight Committee and the community. For more information about the Safe Rest Villages, visit www.portland.gov/ryan/safe-rest-villages


Eviction and Rent Support is Still Available!

Rent Assistance 

The federal COVID-19 eviction moratorium may have ended, but local protections and resources are still available to help keep Multnomah County renters from losing their housing.

Click here to find out where you can apply for emergency rent assistance. Portland tenants can apply for local emergency rent assistance program for help paying their current rent or any back rent accrued between April 2020 and June 2021. Tenants who provide their landlord with proof they have applied for rent relief will be protected from eviction while their application for rent assistance is pending.

Eviction Defense

Renters who receive an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent should call 2-1-1 for help immediately. A 211 staff member will refer callers to Bienestar de la Familia for help applying for rapid rent assistance (even if they’ve already applied elsewhere). Bienestar case managers can work with tenants and their landlords to obtain rent assistance within a matter of days.
 
The Portland Housing Bureau has created the Eviction Legal Defense Project, in partnership with the Oregon Law Center, Portland Community College’s Clear Clinic, and United Way of the Columbia Willamette, to provide free legal representation to low-income renters facing eviction for any reason. Call the Eviction Legal Defense Project at 888-585-9638 or email evictiondefense@oregonlawcenter.org for help. Tenants do no need to wait until an eviction court case is filed to get help and should seek assistance from the Eviction Legal Defense Program as soon as they receive a notice of termination.

For more information, visit: portland.gov/phb/rental-services/eviction-help-renters


Calendar

JUNE 2022

  • Juneteenth Celebration at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center (IFCC)
    Featuring The Normal Sylvester Band, Tahirah Memory, plus food, activities and more!
    Friday, June 17, 2022, from noon – 6:00 pm

  • Proud Ground - Financial Beginnings Workshop Series: Credit & Debit
    Wednesday, June 8, 2022 from 6pm – 7pm
    Register here

  • Proud Ground - Financial Beginnings Serie de Talleres: Credito y deuda
    Thursday, June 9, 2022 from 6pm – 7pm
    Register here