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Saving my grandparents’ North Portland home

Blog Post
Miranda Monroe (left), PHB Lead Grant Coordinator Molly Luft (right), and volunteers work to clear out and repair Miranda’s family home.
Ms. Miranda Monroe recently shared her experience repairing her grandparents’ home.

Miranda Monroe’s grandparents lived in their NE Portland home for 60 years before Miranda and her sister inherited the home in 2014. Although not fully prepared to take over the maintenance of the home, Miranda understood the importance of keeping the family legacy going and her grandparent’s home was a big part of that history.

“My grandmother left it for us to be able to connect with each other—to be able to have generational wealth, and to have something to pass on to our children. My four-year-old son didn't get to meet her, but he thinks he can feel her presence in the house—he even creeps around as if we have to be quiet!”

The aging home needed significant repairs, though, and Miranda became concerned about the growing number of complaints from neighbors, cash offers from flippers, even calls from the City about blight and reports that the property was abandoned.

The cost of addressing major repairs such as leaky roofs, electrical hazards, or falling porches in the older N/NE Portland housing stock can put homeowners at risk of losing their home—something Miranda is all too familiar with.

“There are probably four original homeowners on the block—and I just knew that this house would not be for sale. You don't get another family home like this. If you can save it, you do so because it is not something that is common these days.”

To prevent displacement of longtime N/NE Portland homeowners, PHB supports home retention through a number of programs and resources, including 0% interest loans and grants, to help low-and moderate-income homeowners, seniors, and people with disabilities make the repairs and accessibility modifications to continue living safely in their homes.

Struggling to pay for the repairs and hoping to avoid costly fines, Miranda was relieved to learn that she qualified for PHB’s Lead Paint Abatement Program as well as a Home Repair Loan.

Many residents of N/NE Portland have reason to be weary of low-interest loans offers. “When we were told about programs, we were also being told you have a lien against your home, and your home is in danger of being taken,” she says. PHB’s Home Repair Loan is designed to stabilize current homeowners by addressing home repairs that would impact their health, safety, and ability to retain their homes long term—and the loan is completely forgiven after 15 years.

Molly Luft, Lead Grant Coordinator at PHB, worked with Miranda to get many of the needed repairs done and also connected her to Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income homeowners with home repairs at no cost. On a rainy Saturday in April, a group of volunteers from Rebuilding Together and PHB showed up to help Miranda clear out the house, tear down the existing deck, and start rebuilding a new one.

“That experience was a blessing… it helped a lot for a team to come together and volunteer to help me clear out my house. I felt grateful just to know that there were people that were willing to take time out of their lives to help me get things from four stories of a house—from the attic to the basement, including all sorts of things from the 1950’s onward.”

It helped a lot for a team to come together and volunteer to help me clear out my house.

Miranda also received a grant from the Portland Clean Energy Fund to replace the hot water heater and make critical electrical repairs, including the installation of a new electrical panel.

Today, the house has a fresh coat of paint, a new roof and gutters, a repaired sewer line, and will soon have a new side deck and front porch. Above all, she is grateful to remain in the neighborhood. She recalls how before passing, her grandmother had witnessed gentrification in the neighborhood at such a rapid pace that it was disorienting for her. “I became her driver at one point,” Miranda shared, “And she would ask ‘where are we?’ I would say ‘we are around the corner—on Vancouver,’ and she just couldn’t believe it. That is why it is so important that we kept the family home. I know my grandmother is happy.”

Home repair volunteers
Repairing a generational home
home repair, street view of house
PHB staff and volunteers repair North Portland home
Many people helped repair Ms. Monroe's home
Many people helped repair Ms. Monroe's home