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From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson
I was listening to a story on the radio the other day about people camping on the Springwater Trail. The reporter did a nice job personalizing an elderly couple and helping listeners understand how and why they were living outside. Then, at the end, she concluded by saying she wished she could do something to help ("like take them a bag of avocados or find them employment") but since she was a reporter, that wasn't her job. WHAT? I don't know how we are going to end homelessness, but I can guarantee you we aren't going to get very far if the only people who help are those who get paid to do so. I didn't expect that she would invite the interviewees to move into her house, but she certainly could have taken them a bag of avocados if she really wanted to! Or some clean drinking water and a pair of socks. Just saying.
Contrast that to the following story. One of our resident families recently lost custody of their three young children due to struggles with mental health and domestic violence. They subsequently lost their housing, largely for the same reasons. IHI staff worried about the kids, who were placed in emergency foster care. Unfortunately, we heard through the grapevine that it was not a good placement. So did others. One family in particular heard about it from their daughter, who was still in touch with the oldest child via text. This family, who struggles to make ends meet and lives in affordable housing themselves, made a life changing decision to permanently foster all three children of their former neighbors. These kids can now remain with their siblings, stay in the same school, and grow up with a stable family in a familiar neighborhood.
We can't all be heroes every day, but I'm a firm believer that if everyone does something to make the world a better place, it will be. I care about housing so that is what I do, but I respect and rely on others who fight for civil rights, defend endangered species, and keep dangerous materials out of our State. None of us can right all the wrongs in the world and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the size of our problems. The only way to stay sane is to tackle them one step at a time.
Some of us go big. I have a good friend who joined with her neighbors, raised money, and bought a trailer for a man who was living in their neighborhood park. They also found a mobile home site for his trailer and paid the rent for him to live there. Others of us take tiny steps. When I buy a cup of overpriced coffee, I might buy an extra and share it with someone outside. Some of us have great influence. Senators Ron Wyden and Maria Cantwell are working to increase critical federal resources so we can build more affordable housing. Others of us have smaller spheres, but can still make a difference. Never underestimate the impact of a smile, a "good morning," or a kind gesture for our neighbors on the street. Undignified circumstances can make people feel inhuman - treating people with respect and kindness is powerful.
If you want to do more, you can volunteer - Human Solutions' Family Shelter offers many volunteer opportunities, year round. If you have more money than time, service providers need your donations to support their work. The absolute easiest thing to do is vote YES in November on an historic ballot measure that will raise funds so that Portland can build more affordable housing for our neighbors with the lowest incomes.
Even though most of what we hear about in the media are problems, I promise you that many talented and dedicated individuals are working hard to build more affordable homes, help people stay housed, and move people in off the streets. And many others,
whose job it is not
, are nonetheless stepping up to make a difference. Over the next few months IHI will share success stories to help inspire us all to action. There are a million ways to help. Big or small, easy or hard - pick whatever feels comfortable and change the world!
Evoking the Sounds of Time Past
Innovative Housing is very excited to announce the unveiling of our first soundscape in Old Town! According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, a soundscape is "a mélange of musical and sometimes nonmusical sounds." IHI is teaming up with Jacqueline Peterson Loomis, founder of the Old Town History Project, and Charles Morrow, internationally renowned sound engineer, to create audio art installations that will help bring Old Town's history alive.
The creative spark for this project came from Jackie Peterson Loomis, who has done extensive research and cultural preservation work with many communities that have called Old Town home. Jackie envisioned a series of sound experiences that evoke different eras in Old Town. The first to launch will be housed at the Erickson Fritz Apartments on 2
Avenue and will share the sounds of August Erickson's Workingman's Saloon from 1900-1930.
IHI is fortunate to own several historic buildings in Old Town that will house the soundscapes, so we took the lead on implementation of this project. We are partnering with Central City Concern to locate a soundscape at The Estate Hotel (once home to the Maletis Market) that will tell the story of the Greek community in Old Town circa 1925-1960. In addition to installations at the Erickson Fritz Apartments and the Estate Hotel, IHI will be hosting a soundscape that focuses on the Jewish immigrant experience from 1925-1960 at the Modern Rich Apartments and one that depicts the Japanese American experience from 1915-1941 at Musolf Manor. Each of these soundscapes are being carefully researched and scripted by Jackie, with the support and cooperation of Jewish, Greek, and Japanese community members and cultural preservationists. With the assistance of volunteer sound engineer Larry Johnson, Jackie is also recording pieces of music and narrative to weave into the soundscapes.
Charles Morrow and his team are producing and engineering the scripts using proprietary software that allows us to choreograph sounds for different times of day, locations in the buildings, and seasons of the year. For example, at the Erickson, passers-by will hear the sounds of men in the saloon from below and female voices wafting overhead, as if from the upper stories of the bar where they were allowed to entertain. Morning sounds will be different from evening and late night audio experiences, when the saloon got more raucous.
IHI is extremely grateful to the Portland Development Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust for grant funding that made this project possible. The Erickson soundscape unveiling will take place in September and all four will be up and running later this fall!
A Cultural Celebration
in East County
Community-building opportunities are a critical component of vibrant communities. At IHI we encourage our residents to become involved and take on leadership roles in their local communities. For example, over the last year an IHI resident and Marisa Monteverde, one of IHI's Family Resident Service Coordinators, have served on a local SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) Advisory Board in East Multnomah County. The Advisory Board, which is made up of parents, community members, and school personnel, is tasked with addressing challenges that face many families in East County and creating more opportunities for
parental engagement in schools.
IHI's resident Advisory Board member recommended hosting a cultural fair for families at East Gresham Grade School. The Advisory Board embraced the idea and organized a dinner, followed by a cultural showcase, to highlight and celebrate different cultural traditions.
Families were invited to prepare dishes representative of their culture to share with other
attendees. The fair offered
on activities such
friendship bracelets and traditional paper flowers. After dinner, the Gresham High School SUN program
showcased Mexican folk dancing and the East Gresham
Grade School SUN program
showcased hip hop dancing and
Tae Kwon Do. The event was a huge success - over 200 people attended! IHI is extremely grateful for our partnership with the SUN program and looks forward to supporting our residents and others in their efforts to cultivate and celebrate a vibrant East Gresham community.
HI and Erickson Fritz Apartments Receive Community Impact of the Year Award
On June 2, 2016 IHI was honored to accept the Community Impact of the Year Award at the Portland Business Journal's annual Commercial Real Estate Awards luncheon. The CRE Awards are the Portland Business Journal's annual recognition of excellence in commercial real estate development, design, building, and management practices. IHI was in good company among awardees who are leading the CRE field and building the future of the Portland metropolitan region.
Read more about the winners.
Celebrating Academic Achievement
This spring, to honor graduating seniors and students advancing to the next grade, IHI hosted our 2
Annual Graduation and Promotion Celebrations in conjunction with start-of-summer parties at each of our family sites. This is a great opportunity for residents to get together and celebrate the academic achievements of students in their community. IHI also gave each graduating senior a gift to honor their accomplishment.
Yessica has lived at one of IHI's family properties since it opened in 2008. She graduated this year from Benson Polytechnic High School and will be heading to Stanford University in the fall on a full ride scholarship! Yessica also received several other awards recognizing her academic excellence, including the Trail Blazers Foundation College Scholarship sponsored by Wells Fargo and The Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber Scholarship. Yessica is a first generation high school graduate and college student and plans to study International Relations and Public Health. IHI celebrates Yessica and her accomplishments, along with all of the academic achievements of our hard working residents!
Christian graduated from Gresham High School and will be attending Mt. Hood Community College in the fall.
He has been involved with IHI youth programing since he was in middle school. IHI's Resident Service Coordinators helped him with credit recovery when he needed some support to ensure he graduated on time. Christian says, "Doing [college] campus visits with IHI motivated me to graduate and continue my education."
Lower Right: Savanna graduated from 8th grade this June and received an award for Academic Excellence.
Lower Left: Alysha graduated from 8th grade and was one of two people in her class to receive the Principle's Award for Excellence.
IHI is very proud to have hosted a special exhibit by award winning photographer Pedro Oliveira at the Erickson Gallery in July. Pedro tells the stories of homeless people in Portland and California through his photo essay project,
Careful: Soul Inside
In an interview with Street Roots, Pedro said "The idea is simple: I talk to them, hear their stories and register everything on camera. My intention is to bring more awareness about the fine line that separates people experiencing homelessness from the rest of society, and hopefully to bring down this huge social wall that often makes some people practically invisible."
IHI first learned about Pedro in Street Roots - as soon as we saw his captivating photos, we knew that we wanted to feature his work at the Erickson Gallery. Pedro partnered with Raed Ammari, another award winning photographer with a similar mission, to deliver an evocative exhibit that shared some of the many faces of homelessness in the United States.
Time to Re-enroll Your Fred Meyer Community Rewards
One of the easiest ways to help IHI earn donations is through Fred Meyer's Community Rewards program but did you know that you need to re-enroll your rewards card?
It is very easy! To re-enroll or sign up for the first time, all you need to do is:
- Link your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to Innovative Housing, Inc. at www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards. You can search for us by our name or by our non-profit number 86076.
- Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping IHI earn a donation!
- You still earn your Rewards Points, Fuel Points, and Rebates, just as you do today.
- If you do not have a Rewards Card, they are available at the Customer Service desk of any Fred Meyer store.
Save the Date
for IHI's 2016 FriendRaiser
IHI is throwing a house party!
Friday, October 21, 2016
7 - 10 pm
Details to follow . . .
Wikipedia: House Party
A house party is typically a type of
where medium to large groups of people gather at the residence of the party's host. In modern usage, a house party is typically associated with . . . crowds, loud music, dancing and the