Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
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Winter 2017

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

These days I find myself toggling between overwhelmed and dumbfounded, just wanting to put my head down and do some work.  That has always been my answer - when the problems are too big, I focus on tiny, concrete things that I can control.  For the most part, it works, and it got me through the end of December.  But I can only plan so many holiday get togethers, family trips, and special meals - that season has ended and I'm back to trying to figure out what I can control.  So far, it has become abundantly clear that I can't control the weather, the direction in which our country is moving with a new Presidential administration and all that entails, or even the number of people who freeze to death on the streets in my own hometown.  In spite of our efforts - and there are monumental efforts being made by many dedicated people and agencies - we do not have a housing delivery system and service network that fully meets the needs of our neighbors.  It is disheartening to know that all the work we do is not enough.  It is infuriating to have a pipeline of potential projects that could create hundreds of new housing units, but not have a streamlined way to get them on the ground. 

Development takes time.  Site control, architectural plans, design review, building permits, financing.  Affordable housing development takes even more time, because we have to secure multiple capital sources via competitive funding applications and then comply with all the associated rules, regulations, and requirements that come with the money.   It is painfully slow, frustrating work.  We know this and usually it is OK.  But when people are dying on the streets it adds a pressure that is almost unbearable. 

The good news is that we know the people of Portland care enough about housing equity to pass a bond measure that will generate $258 Million in new resources.  We are welcoming a new Mayor and Commissioner to City leadership who are both deeply committed to affordable housing, and they join an existing City Council that has demonstrated their support for housing over and over again.  Pair this with a five-woman County Commission that has just become more diverse than ever before and shares the City's commitment to housing equity, and we have an amazingly supportive local environment in which to work.  At the State level, we are also seeing unprecedented support and leadership around affordable housing, and have a bold new director at the helm of Oregon's housing agency.  

Now, more than ever, I feel grateful to live and work in a place that prioritizes the things I care about.  In the face of uncertainty about federal funding, extreme disruption to our primary capital source (the value of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits is tied to corporate tax rates), rising interest rates, and escalating construction costs, all of which serve to squeeze our already-tenuous development budgets, it is good to know that we are working in the midst of compassionate, like-minded people who want us to succeed.  So we must.  We will dig deeper and we will keep working, and eventually we will get more housing built.  Meanwhile, the City and County are working tirelessly to open up more shelter beds and connect with families and individuals living outside.  This month a consortium of hospitals and health care providers are opening the Unity Center, an innovative medical center that will provide emergency, inpatient, and outpatient care to individuals experiencing mental and behavioral health crises.  Portland's new inclusionary zoning program will roll out and we will see how much money is generated by the City's new construction excise tax. 

Good things are happening.  Thank you for being a part of that and for your support.  Together, we can make 2017 a happy new year!  
New Family Housing 
with IRCO
 
Innovative Housing has been awarded $2.9 million dollars by Oregon's Housing and Community Services Department (OHCS) for a new family housing project in SE Portland.  This development will create 78 brand new apartments designed to house large families.  The property will be a mix of two-, three-, and four-bedroom homes that include both townhouses and accessible flats, spread across nine buildings on three acres of land.  The site is very well located, close to amenities such as shopping, services, open space/parks, and the local elementary school is right next door!

The most exciting part of this new project is IHI's partnership with IRCO, Portland's Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.  IHI will build and manage the new family housing while IRCO will refer and provide support services for new residents.  IRCO was founded in 1976 by refugees, for refugees, and has grown into a significant organization that last year alone engaged with 28,660 individuals from over 40 different ethnic backgrounds speaking more than 35 languages.  Most of IRCO's clients have been forced to leave their home countries for fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, and they have come to Portland to begin new lives.  IRCO plays a critical role by providing services that focus on removing barriers to self-sufficiency and helping individuals and families thrive.  IRCO offers more than 100 culturally and linguistically specific social services, from employment, vocational training and English language learning, to community development, early childhood and parenting education, youth academic support and gang prevention. 

Large family size and extreme poverty are significant challenges to accessing safe, stable housing.  This is particularly true for immigrants and refugees, a group that is growing rapidly in Oregon.  In fact, Portland has become the 11th highest ranked destination for immigrants nationally, and finding affordable homes for their clients is one of IRCO's highest needs.  Like other local refugee resettlement agencies, IRCO has responded to our local housing crisis by resettling families in more affordable areas further from metropolitan centers such as Washington, Marion and Lane Counties.  Unfortunately, these locations are far from Portland's strong network of culturally and linguistically specific programs.  Newly arrived families desperately need appropriately sized housing close to services that support them as they make the difficult transition to life in a new country.  IHI's new family housing project will provide this haven.

The $2.9 Million award from the State Housing Department is the first piece of capital funding for this important project.  The funds come through a new program called LIFT, which stands for Local Innovation and Fast Track, and IHI is committed to getting this housing on the ground and ready to rent as quickly as possible.  We are working to streamline our development process in terms of design and construction, and to implement cost reducing measures that include building simple structures and reusing trusted designs.

IHI and IRCO have talked about partnering for several years.  We are very pleased to see our shared vision finally becoming a reality and are grateful to OHCS for its support.  We  look forward to a groundbreaking early next year!
IHI's Year in Review

NW 14th & Raleigh

IHI continued predevelopment and design work on new family housing at NW 14th/Raleigh and conducted due diligence and negotiations to acquire and preserve three affordable properties with

a total of 291 apartments.

 

IHI hired a new Director of Housing Operations and created a new Asset Manager position to ensure the continued success of our growing portfolio.

 

IHI raised $82,000 in charitable donations and sponsorships to support our Resident Services Programs and $309,945 in foundation grants to support our asset management, development, and resident services work. 

 

IHI was named #13 in the small nonprofit category of the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon.

 

Resident Service staff served 3,444 summer lunches, provided summer activities at 4 family sites, and distributed 213 backpacks of school supplies to resident children.

 

Children play after eating summer lunches.

 

IHI staff provided over 1,022 eviction prevention services to residents.

 

IHI and the Erickson Fritz Apartments were honored to receive the Portland Business Journal's Community Impact of the Year Award at its annual Commercial Real Estate Awards luncheon. 

 

The Erickson Gallery provided 19 local artists with free gallery space and hosted 

Sarah Stevenson holds Woman of Vision award.

special shows for two nonprofits, Street Roots and The Giving Tree NW.

 

IHI's Executive Director was named a 2016 Woman of Vision by the Daily Journal of Commerce.

 

IHI hosted Senators Ron Wyden and Maria Cantwell at the Magnolia Apartments.

 

Elementary and middle-school students participated 3,455 times in weekly homework help and after-school activities provided by IHI.

 

IHI participated in Enterprise Community Partner's healthcare and housing learning collaborative and CORE research study that demonstrated the positive results of housing-based services on health outcomes. 

 

Residents attend a health workshop highlighting out partnership with Old Town Clinic.
Donor Highlight:
Bremik Construction

Each year IHI staff nominate resident families to be adopted for the holidays by companies, nonprofits, and other donors.  This year IHI successfully matched 18 resident families for adoption.  We were very pleased when the general contractor for our new project at NW 14th/Raleigh, Bremik Construction, graciously adopted three families this holiday season! 
Thanks to the generosity of Bremik Construction and its employees, the Garcia family had a wonderful Christmas.
 
When Bremik said they wanted to adopt three families, the Garcia family immediately came to mind.  The Garcia's recently moved into IHI's housing during a difficult time in their life.  Mom and Dad just separated and Dad was awarded full custody.  The family has been struggling with the transition, both emotionally and financially.  Dad was very sad because his kids had already been through so much with the separation and he badly wanted to  provide a nice Christmas for them.  When IHI staff told him that Bremik would be adopting his family, they could feel his joy.  Bremik went above and beyond with their generosity.  The kids received clothing, bedding, shoes, and some amazing toys!  They also provided the Garcia's with gift cards for food and fun experiences to have together.  At IHI, we are honored to have such amazing partners.  Thank you Bremik Construction!
New Curators Join Erickson Gallery

Alone - Hyunju Kim
IHI is thrilled to announce our two newest volunteers, Brooke Budy and Tatyana Ostenpako.  Brooke and Tatyana have signed on to take over the curating duties at the Erickson Gallery for 2017.  They 
both  hold degrees in Fine Art and are painters whose work was featured in the gallery in 2016. 

Brooke and Tatyana kicked off the season with Painter Hyunju Kim and her one-woman show titled "The Innocent Eye is Blind" where Kim explores and analyzes her subconscious - her dreams - which she calls "the real" through paint.  In February, Tracy Pitts will show 16 of his 35mm film prints in a solo show entitled "We've Never Really Met, But I think About You All the Time". A show that you will not want to miss!
Photograph by Tracy Pitts
 
Other shows in the upcoming months include collage work and paintings by Ann Kruger and Tatyana (March), a group show featuring work from PSU Painters (April), and sculptures and installations from Maggie Heath (May). 
Thank You 
Coats for Kids Donors

2016 marked the 11th year of IHI's annual Coats for Kids campaign.  Each year we are in awe of the continuing support of our donors.  Through their generosity, we are able to ensure that every resident child in need of a warm winter coat receives one.  This year, we distributed 146 coats!  Because of our donors' compassion and generosity, 146 children will stay warm and healthy as they play, learn, and enjoy the winter season.
 
Thank you to our generous donors for helping ensure that all of our resident children have warm winter coats this year:
 
JR Johnson
MWA Architects
Kerry and Bill Stevenson
Katherine Patricelli
Darcy Vincent
Jay Gentile
Joe Hughes
Bobby Weinstock
Cezanne Miller
John Cunningham
Jan Yocom
Caryn Hadley
Allison Plass
Nelda Newton
Jeffrey and Shura McGraw






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