January 2024 N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy Newsletter

Newsletter
mural with faces
January updates from the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy.
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Welcome Message from Dr. Holt

Dr. Holt speaks at an event

Happy New Year!

Thanks for being willing to champion the opportunity to support individuals and families in one of the most significant components of stability: affordable housing. Central to the health and well-being of everyone is the experience of safe, clean, and affordable housing. It ought to be a shared human right.

Our work, as members of the North/Northeast Neighborhood Oversight Committee, is to ensure that as many families and individuals as possible get a chance to live, rest, and refresh in housing that meets their needs and does not create new burdens. For the past eight years, we have worked consistently and unapologetically to support this. Our commitment is to the community that deserves the greatest opportunity to thrive by being in stable housing. Our delight is that we have proof that this is working.

Promises made must be promises kept.

2024 is a year full of promises and possibilities. It is a time of rejoicing, renewal, and recommitments. While we celebrate what we have accomplished, we do not relax as though the work is done. 

Therefore, we welcome other minds, strategists, leaders, and influencers to join in the process. We welcome you to the work of the Oversight Committee. Join us in doing good, by doing right.

Together we can change the lived experience of many generations.

Dedicated to Excellence,

Dr. Steven Holt, Committee Chair

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."
Marie Curie


News: 

Preference Policy First Time Homebuyer Program Re-opens in February! 

family moving into a new home

As we closed out 2023 and moved into the new year, we are excited to return to promoting homeownership! Our Preference Policy application for homeownership goes live on our website in 2024, and we have two homeownership developments coming online and various opportunities to create new homeowners. PHB supports the development of new units, as well as providing direct down payment assistance to first time homebuyers.

PHB is partnering with Self Enhancement, Inc., Habitat for Humanity, Community Development Partners, and the Williams & Russell CDC to create new housing units for purchase. Homeownership is critical to family stabilization and the creation of wealth, especially intergenerational wealth, in America. PHB believes in, supports, and promotes homeownership throughout the City, and last year we successfully secured funds to support the North/Northeast homeownership program, receiving $1.2 million from Prosper Portland to go along with the $1.7 million in Interstate Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds for first-time home buyers applying through the N/NE Preference Policy.

The application is open to everyone, and longtime and displaced residents of North and Northeast Portland can receive preference for new homebuying opportunities. Preference is based on where the applicant and/or their ancestors live or lived in relation to areas of concentrated urban renewal in the N/NE area. Once the points have been determined, we will work closely with the Portland Housing Center (PHC) to help applicants become mortgage ready and identify homeownership options.

PHC, a non-profit agency, serves as a comprehensive resource for first-time homebuyers, offering counseling, down payment assistance, individual development accounts (IDA), and mortgage lending. Their programs aim to bridge the racial homeownership gap, especially for low- to moderate-income households. Once a participant is ready to purchase their first home, (in other words, once they are “mortgage ready”), PHB can assist with the down payment.

When the application goes live on our website in February 2024, paper applications will also be accepted. For more information, please visit the Preference Policy page.


Preference Policy Post Purchase Pilot Program

front view of a Portland home

Portland Housing Center (PHC) launched its new Preference Policy Post Purchase Program on January 10th, inviting program participants and community partners to attend and learn how the program supports and provides resources to Preference Policy homebuyers.

As stated by PHC's Executive Director Dana Shephard, "The Post Purchase Pilot Program responds to community needs identified in the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy; with goals to stem the continued displacement of longtime homeowners and new homeowners identified through the Homeownership Preference Policy. PHC, along with trusted community partners, aim to prevent additional loss of housing wealth in the N/NE community and surrounding areas."

A feature of the new program includes an opportunity for new homeowners to share their homeownership journey through storytelling! PHC and PHB would like to capture the homebuying journeys and experiences of our Preference Policy homebuyers, and those willing to share their stories will be compensated for their time with a $100 VISA gift card.

SAVE THE DATE - February 22, 2024

PHC is planning a Preference Policy Celebration - Celebrating 5 years of Homeownership! This event is planned for Black History Month. Additional details forthcoming on PHC's website


Updates:

N/NE Preference Policy Rental Waitlist

a child plays in the playground at Songbird

The new and improved application portal, launched in January for rental, and launching in 2024 for homeownership, is designed to streamline the application process, making it easier than ever for households to apply for the N/NE Preference Policy Waitlist for rental, and homeownership, opportunities. With user-friendly features, intuitive navigation, and enhanced mapping features, this portal ensures a seamless experience for applicants.

The Rental Waitlist application is open year-round, meaning you can apply at any time. If you applied in 2021 or later, there is no need to reapply for the rental housing waitlist. There is no closing date. Applicants on the waitlist are referred to housing providers for available units when there is a vacancy, and their name reaches the top of the list.

PHB offers in-person Preference Policy information sessions on a quarterly basis to answer questions and share information with the community about upcoming rental opportunities and how to apply. (Event details will be posted on the Preference Policy page).

How to apply for the Preference Policy waitlist

If you need technical assistance with the application, we are accepting in-person appointments at our offices at 1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7007. Book an in-person appointment here.

Open Buildings:
Garlington Place
Beatrice Morrow 
Charlotte B. Rutherford Place 
Magnolia II
King + Parks
Songbird
Renaissance Commons

New Buildings in Development:
Dr. Darrell Millner Building – Opening Spring 2024 - Community Development Partners and Self Enhancement Inc.

Albina One – Opening Spring 2025 - Albina Vision Trust


Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program

a woman rests on a moving box thinking of what to do

PHB has partnered with Resolutions NW (RNW) to provide landlord-tenant mediation services for landlords and tenants looking to resolve conflicts prior to filing eviction claims. RNW works to resolve conflicts around past-due rent, lack of communication, or complaints, and focuses on rooted issues of equity. 

RNW's vision is to build healthier bonds between tenants and landlords to keep those most impacted by financial hardship in their homes, and work towards a city where housing is a human right.

In particular, disparities in power, race, gender, sexuality, class, etc., can leave tenants from marginalized communities feeling uncertain in approaching their landlords to discuss any issues or unfair treatment. Minor issues can escalate into serious matters such as eviction, biases, violence, and feelings of unwelcomeness and fear.

Through proactive facilitation and relationship building, all parties encounter long-term benefits.

For more information or to see if you qualify, please call (503) 595-4890 or email info@resolutionsnorthwest.org


Stories of Resilience

Deloris' Journey to Homeownership

Deloris smiles while wearing a mask, standing in front of a kitchen

Deloris’ life tells a story of persistent, even demanding, growth. Growing up in Northeast Portland, she was not yet 10 years old and helping her working parents by taking care of her siblings, helping with dinner, and looking after the home. Thanks to these early years of heavy responsibility, she cites her capacity to deal with stress and hardship.

Then, at just 17, her family was suddenly uprooted from their home in the King neighborhood. The City of Portland used eminent domain to take her home under a then-active Urban Renewal platform that caused the displacement of thousands of North Portland homeowners—an overwhelming majority of them Black. After relocating to NE 15th and Prescott, her family re-settled and was forced to begin anew.

Now, almost 50 years later, Deloris has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to become a first-time homeowner - purchasing a home in the Portsmouth neighborhood and joining a 12-home community near where she first grew up. When reflecting on what owning a home means to her in light of that early displacement, Deloris says calmly:

“Buying a home feels like lying under a warm blanket on a cold day, it heats up my inner self.” 

Although she experienced displacement early on in her life, Deloris’ character never dissolved; instead, it anchored her resolve. Since then, as a single-mother, grandmother, and adoptive great-aunt, she worked against long odds to become a success while always lending her heart and home to others in need. And, at a proud 64 years of age, she has just as much to enjoy looking back on as she does to looking forward.

In the 1990s, Deloris took a big step in her journey and moved her family to Mississippi to be near extended family. The sun was warm and life, as she describes it, was peaceful. Then, just as she was settled into her new life, Hurricane Katrina swept through and destroyed everything in sight. At that point, Deloris decided to return home and make a fresh start in Portland. Yet, after looking for a home to buy in her original neighborhood in North Portland, she was shocked at how high home values had become.

She found an apartment, and, yet again, began to resettle into her new life in Portland. By this time, she had raised her children and was helping to raise her granddaughter when she made the decision to go back to school and earn a degree in Child and Family Development while also working full-time. Her determination didn’t stop her there, though. She went back again, this time earning her Master’s degree in Diagnosis Psychology. In her education, Deloris set an example for her granddaughter about the power of persistence. This hard work then landed her a good job at Cascadia Behavioral Health Care working as a Case Manager for housing, connecting Portlanders experiencing homelessness with the services to help to get them off the street and into a home.

All the while helping to get others into long-term housing, Deloris slowly worked to rebuild her credit and set new goals, and eventually began working with Catholic Charities and the Portland Housing Center. She remembers her case managers pushing her to believe that homeownership was a reachable target, but she just didn’t think it was possible.  She questioned tackling such a big task at her age.

With a village of support behind her, Deloris began the arduous process of saving up for a down payment and qualifying for various resources that would put her on the long road to becoming a homeowner. During this time, she learned she qualified for the City of Portland’s N/NE Preference Policy that prioritizes residents who have generational ties to North and Northeast Portland as well as those who were affected by the City’s harmful urban renewal practices.

Later, her supporting team at Portland Housing Center connected her with Habitat for Humanity. When she had a meeting with Habitat’s Homeownership Manager, she thought to herself, “Oh, this sounds great!” She applied and waited. She wasn’t confident about her odds. She was still saving, still building credit, and was busy helping raise her newborn great-nephew, King. Then she received a call.

“I thought I was going to die—like I had won the lottery! You can’t breathe, you can’t think, you can’t even comprehend.”

Deloris has now moved into her home and returned to a neighborhood she once called home. She is grateful that in buying her first home, she rejoined the community she grew up in, and she will leave a new legacy for her granddaughter and great-nephew. She says she feels secure. “Knowing they have a permanent place where memories are built and nourished and hopefully, they will continue the tradition for generations to come.”

“Purchasing a home makes me excited because I feel I have control and ambition over my life. Being able to purchase and leave a legacy for my granddaughter whom I raised and now my young great-nephew, means they will have a better start to life. Legacies have to start somewhere, why not here?”


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