Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
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Portland, OR  97209

 

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Coming Soon...
A new twist on a nontraditional event. 
IHI's FriendRaiser is about to become a 
FriendMaker! 
Please mark you calendars for a special Maker Event on February 23, 2018. 

Other Dates to Remember:

October 2017  - IHI's 12th Annual Coats for Kids Campaign

November 28, 2017 - Giving Tuesday is a nation-wide day of giving, and the kick off to IHI's end of the year giving campaign, which directly benefits our resident services program and supports children, adults, and families living at our housing sites.

Fall 2017

Building Homes and Community
    Since breaking ground in June, Bremik Construction has been working hard to bring IHI's newest family housing at NW 14th and Raleigh out of the ground. Site work is done, foundations are poured, and the crane is up!
 


In August IHI hosted our annual National Night Out party for the Madison South Neighborhood.  We were proud to offer rock climbing, face painting, delicious summer barbecue, and an opportunity for the community to come together to make the neighborhood a safer, friendlier place to live.
From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson
I'd like to share a tribute to one of the most influential people in Portland's affordable housing world - Israel Bayer. Israel is the Executive Director of Street Roots, a Portland-based newspaper by and for people experiencing homelessness.  The paper creates income opportunities for Street Roots vendors and covers a wide range of topics. Like Israel, it serves a catalytic function in our City. 
 
Over the last 15 years, Israel Bayer has probably done more for affordable housing in Portland than any other single individual.  He is incredibly effective at political strategy and is a City Hall insider, while maintaining his integrity as an outspoken outsider.  He advocates for people living in poverty with a gritty pragmatism while finding common ground with a wide range of divergent stakeholders.  Israel tells it like it is, with gentle yet unwav ering conviction that inspires cooperation rather than conflict. 

I have known Israel for 15  years.  He is someone I respect and admire, both personally and professionally.  He is a mover and a shaker who has never lost himself - when you talk to Israel you know you are getting the real deal.  I'm lucky enough to work in the s ame building as Israel and enjoy sharing a smile and a what's up in passing - I also appreciate our longer consults and his insights into politics, housing, and life.  He's a peer, a colleague, and someone I look up to as a gauge of my own success - a compliment from Israel means I'm doing something right. 
 
Earlier this summer, Israel announced that he will be leaving Street Roots at the end of the year.  I don't know  what is in store for him, but I know that whatever he does, Israel will do it with conviction. Street Roots is seeking a new leader - the rest of us will be looking for our new North Star.  Thank you Israel for giving so much of yourself to our City and to every person who lives here!
School Supplies
To help ease the financial strain of back-to-school time for families, IHI works with each school that serves our residents, identifies required school supplies, and provides grade-appropriate items to every resident student so they go back to school ready to learn and equipped for success. 


Special Thanks to Jeff Reingold of IPM for his annual gift of backpacks- the kids love them!
Reaching New Heights
This summer we offered yoga classes at three of our family sites.The children loved learning different yoga positions, experiencing its calming effects, and participating in mediation sessions.
 
Youth experience many different types of conflict (emotional, social, and/or physical), and yoga practice that includes physical postures along with behavioral techniques and guidelines can provide them a good way to d eal with it.  Yoga is beneficial to children of all ages, and can  be particularly helpful for kids who have special needs.  Researchers have found that kids with autism spectrum disorder who practice yoga at their element ary school have better behavioral success than kids who don't.
 
Yoga is increasingly being used in classrooms across the U.S. to help children perform better in school.  Research suggests that yoga exercises not only help kids con centrate and focus, but also improve their strength, motor coordination, and social skills.  Adults may notice how yoga benefits children, but the best judges are the kids themselves.  Children who practice yoga tell teachers and parents that they are better able to concentrate during the day, focus on their activities, and pay attention to their tasks - all the finest endorsements.
Growing IHI's Portfolio
In early October, IHI closed on the acquisition of a 34-unit building in downtown Portland.  The Cambrian offers vintage studio and one-bedroom apartments in a charming historic building at SW 11 th /Columbia.  IHI is using a c ombination of its own equity and special financing from the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing that is designed to support the acquisition and conversion of market rate units to affordable housing.  The Cambrian is currently student housing.  IHI hasn't yet finalized a new housing program for this beautiful building - for now, we are happy to be bringing it into our portfolio and ensuring that it will remain affordable!
Water Safety and Fun
This summer, thanks to funding from the Juan Young Trust, IHI was able to offer swim lessons and supervised open swim times at our largest family housing site.  We hired Kelsi Scully, a certified lifeguard and World Safe Swimmer instructor, to lead this program.  We offered one-hour swim lessons twice per week, with swimmers split into skills groups to best suit their needs.
 
Children who were unable to put their heads underwater or stay afloat at the beginning of the summer are now capable of swimming from the shallow end to the deep end unassisted!  Children with more advanced swimming skills worked on correcting their form for each different stroke, swim safety, and proper rescue techniques.  
 
In addition to swim lessons, IHI provided a lifeguard for supervised free swim time, giving children an opportunity to play in the sun and practice their new skills for several hours at a time.  Free swim proved to be an extremely popular way to beat the heat, practice skills, and be physically active (parents loved it too)!
 
Lack of opportunity and resources can limit what families are able to provide for their children, and for many participants this was their first chance to take swim lessons.  At IHI we think water safety is critical and we are always looking for ways to share new experiences with our residents.  Thanks to the Juan Young Trust, we helped over 30 children learn  to swim and stay physically active this summer!
An Inspiration
Mell's journey to the Erickson Fritz Apartments was rocky.  She struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and bec ame estranged from her adult children and their families. Finally, she fractured the last link to her family when her relationship with her sister became damaged.  She ended up homeless and at a very low point in her life.
  Mell spent months couch-surfing.  She was depressed and often considered suicide, feeling she had no way out of the "misery that was her life."  When she ran out of couches she reluctantly went to the Salvation Army shelter.  It was there that she reached a turning point and knew she was ready to make changes in her life.  She utilized everything that the Salvation Army offered, graduated from their program, and was accepted into Jean's Place, a short-term women's shelter run by TPI.  Mell was assigned a case manager and began working through their program, which included putting her name on several housing wait lists, including the Erickson Fritz Apartments.  While at Jean's Place she got involved in AA and NA, joined a women's support group, and got the mental health care she needed.  She loved living a clean life. 

When Mell first visited the Erickson Fritz, she knew that was where she wanted to live.  She visited the property regularly to keep track of her spot on the list, and when the Erickson Fritz Apartments opened in 2015 Mell was one of the first residents to move in!  Mell was very excited to leave the shelter and finally have a place she could call her own.  She appreciated the Erickson and its rich history, and especially liked that the apartments were all brand new. 
 
With her own home, Mell felt she had been given a new lease on life and took the opportunity to do things differently.  She continued with her meetings, support group, and regular case management through TPI.  As her stability increased, her confidence rose.  She took a risk and reached out to her children to begin repairing that relationship.  She learned she had grandchildren.  Her daughter accepted Mell back into her life and they began having weekly get-togethers in the Erickson Fritz community room, which is open and available for resident use.  Mell's daughter brought her young children so that Mell could get to know them.  They shared meals, caught up with life and bonded once again.  As trust developed, Mell was given the pleasure of evening visits with her older granddaughter and eventually sleepovers.  They now have a solid relationship and regular visits that she relishes.  She loves her time with "the grandbabies."  Mell is currently working to rebuild the relationship with her sister and it's going really well.  They're starting to laugh and joke again like they used to.  Mell says it's feeling really good - she likes where they're going.
 
A few months ago, at the height of what Mell considered a good, stable life, she was given the kind of news no one wants to hear:  stage 4 lung cancer had metastasized to her brain.  Doctors gave her a 12 month diagnosis. She was suddenly faced with many difficult life decisions.  The news initially rocked Mell's world.  She took some time to process and made thoughtful decisions about her healthcare needs.  Mell is currently in treatment and keeping a positive outlook.  She is living her life with integrity and feels she is reaping the rewards of that good life right now, spending time with her sister, children, and grandchildren.  Mell is an inspiration to us all - a living example that hard work and the right kind of support can overcome even the biggest obstacles.
Innovative Housing Inc. 
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