Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
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Summer 2019

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

I am a lucky woman. Really lucky. I'm financially stable, well educated, and have a great job that puts me in a strong leadership position. I have gotten to this place in large part because I enjoy a wealth of privileges that comes from being born white to a middle class household in the United States. As a result, it is fairly easy for me to walk through the world and feel equal to any man I encounter.

Unfortunately, my "truth" is not universal, nor is my experience common. Many women around the world face horrific conditions and experience trauma I can't even imagine on a daily basis. In less extreme circumstances, women deal with constant reminders that they are valued less than male counterparts, navigate hostile work environments under economic duress, and experience powerlessness over their own bodies and reproductive rights. Women of color experience systemic inequities at significantly higher rates than white women. All of this happens right here, in liberal Portland, in progressive Oregon - and we know it.

We see the damning consequences in poverty rates, health indicators, and housing instability. If there is any doubt, scan the executive summary of Count Her In , a report commissioned by the Women's Foundation of Oregon that illuminates disturbing inequities facing women and girls in Oregon ( https://womensfoundationoforegon.org/uploads/CountHerInExecSummary.pdf ).
The data is grim, especially when we look at how many families are headed by women and consider the ripple effects on those families. In IHI's portfolio, for example, 68% of our resident families have a female head of household, which means they are their family's primary wage earner. Depending on race/ethnicity, women in Oregon earn between 53 and 83 cents for every dollar men in Oregon earn (this wage gap increases with educational attainment). The result is household economic fragility, increased stress/anxiety, and housing instability - women and families are the fastest growing segment of our houseless population.

What to do? Equal pay seems like an easy place to start. The harder work will be culture change. We have to figure out a way to acknowledge and address pervasive physical violence against women. Systems and institutions that perpetuate inequity must be challenged, starting with our legal system. Women must rise to leadership positions where they can influence policies and practices. Those of us who benefited from the civil rights movement and grew up as Title IX babies have to be willing to walk our paths with a critical eye and remember how close we are to a very different reality, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Every father, son, brother, uncle, partner, husband, and friend who loves a woman must join us in identifying and confronting bias. We've come a long way baby, but we have a lot farther to go.  
The City Awards $6M for Garden Park  

IHI is pleased to announce that the City of Portland has awarded nearly $6M to fund our redevelopment of Garden Park Estates, which will result in 62 new affordable homes on the property. IHI acquired Garden Park in late 2017. It sits on a 4 acre site and currently offers 62 two-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom house.

The property was built in 1978 and needs reinvestment. Most of the buildings' major systems are reaching the end of their useful lives and the apartments are very worn. Rather than just rehab what we have, IHI is pursuing a more creative vision for Garden Park's redevelopment. Garden Park presents a unique opportunity to add affordable homes in the growing Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood without the expense of purchasing new land. By better utilizing the generous acreage at Garden Park, IHI can double the number of units available in the complex.

IHI's plans include renovating 33 of the existing units, tearing down and replacing 29 units, and creating 62 brand new apartment homes ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. The newly configured site will have lower rents and a wider array of unit sizes than are currently offered, so we will be able to serve a more inclusive range of low-income households.

Thirteen of the new units will provide Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) to households transitioning out of homelessness. The balance of the property will be restricted at 60% MFI, although IHI is planning to keep rents below maximum because we think maximum rents are currently too high for our target households to afford.

We plan to keep the existing play area, management offices, and laundry room, and add a new community/resident services space, a full-time resident services coordinator, and an outdoor amphitheater that we are excited about using as part of our youth arts program. The amphitheater will also be available to members of the surrounding neighborhood.

IHI is thrilled about the opportunity to redevelop Garden Park. We will substantially improve the property and bring resident services infrastructure that will better support both existing and future residents. The project is not yet fully funded - we plan to apply for State funding this winter - but the City's commitment is a great step forward!
end of the year.

IHI will be leasing up the property using the City's N/NE Preference Policy, which gives preference to residents in North and Northeast Portland that have been harmed by City actions through previous urban renewal practices. Everyone who wants to live at Mag 2 will need to apply through the City's Preference Policy. The application will be available online Tuesday, September 3rd through Monday, September 16th at 11:59pm. For more information and to sign up for preference application email alerts, visit:  www.portlandoregon.gov/phb/preference .
 
The Center Village Apartments were built in 2000, but suffered from construction issues that resulted in water intrusion  and structural damage. When IHI acquired the property in 2015, we knew we had to address those issues in order to preserve the housing for future generations.
A unique state funding opportunity for housing preservation enabled IHI to move forward with a complete re-skin of the building, including all new windows, a new roof, and structural repairs. We also incorporated many interior improvements and upgrades that will make the apartm ents more comfortable for our 60 resident families, including new kitchens, new flooring, and better ventilation. This project not only gives Center Village a new lease on life, but also a fantastic new look that we are loving!
Women in the Trades

Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) recently announced that, for the first time since officials began tracking numbers, more than 10,000 individuals are enrolled in state-registered apprenticeship programs. This is more than double the 4,618 apprentices registered in 2013. Of the 10,002 apprentices registered in 2019, 705 are women (up from 293 in 2013) and 1,979 are people of color (up from 683 in 2013). This increase in diversity is great to see, but as an industry we have to keep pushing for greater inclusiveness and participation for women and people of color.

Even today, at an all-time high, women make up only 7% of apprentices in the construction trades. Why is that significant? Because construction trades offer skilled, living-wage jobs and apprenticeship programs are the gateway to these careers. The largest apprenticeship programs are for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and steamfitters. All of these trades have historically been dominated by men, and mostly white men. Organizations like Oregon Tradeswomen, Constructing Hope, and Portland YouthBuilders focus on helping women, people of color, and low-income youth with barriers to employment get enrolled in pre-apprenticeship training programs that will put them on the path to construction careers. Unfortunately, nontraditional workers still face many challenges, including unwelcoming environments on some job sites.

IHI is committed to making progress on this front. In partnership with our general contractors, we are advancing workforce equity goals on our projects. At the beginning of every housing development, IHI sets a participation goal for Minority and Women owned contractors, along with Emerging Small Businesses (together, these groups are often referred to as MWESB certified companies). The City requires that we target 20%, we usually aim for 30%,
and we often achieve higher than that. Separate from MWESB participation, the City has Workforce requirements that relate to the number of low-income, women, and minority apprentices utilized by the various contractors on a job. The City goal for women apprentices is 9%. Unfortunately, because there are so few women apprentices overall, we do not usually achieve that target.

That is why we are so pleased that we recently met our female participation goal at Mag 2! Kudos to Andersen Mechanical, Affordable Electric, and Bremik Construction for getting us over the line. Most importantly, we want to thank and acknowledge the tradeswomen who pushed through barriers, caught flack for being different, and helped us all take a small step forward towards a more equitable construction industry.
 
Spotlight on New Staff
IHI is very pleased to welcome four new staff members to our Resident Services Team. All come with a wealth of  varied experiences and skill sets that will enhance IHI's programming and provide excellent support to our residents.
 

"I am excited to work at IHI because of the importance of providing affordable housing to low income communities, but more importantly, taking that extra step to ensure families are able to thrive and be successful by providing support and resources."  

- Noemi Esquivel Mendoza
 








"I am very excited to be part of the IHI team and to be able to work with a population that I am passionate about."

- Cindy Ramirez
 








"I'm excited to be working with IHI and to be part of the team. I'm really looking forward to working with IHI's residents and making their lives a little better day by day."

- Andi Karch
 







"I am most looking forward to being a positive support for families as a whole. I have enjoyed working with families in a school setting and am excited about helping in their everyday lives in addition to providing academic help."

- Tavares Hubbard
 

 

Bridgeview Garden Club

The Bridgeview  Garden Club is a success! Thanks to a volunteer who delivered and helped set up a raised bed, Bridgeview residents started by planting two
kinds of radishes, two kinds of lettuce, cilantro, a nd tomatoes.  Someone else  donated seeds so we added pole beans, carrots, cucumbers and acorn squash. 

Residents were eager to learn gardening skills and participate in planting, maintaining, and harvesting the vegetables. They also planted sunflowers along the outer edge of the property that are a gorgeous addition to our already amazing views of the St. John's Bridge.
What is affordable rent?

When Multnomah County's area median income increased to $87,90 0 in 2019, the affordable rent for a 2-bedroom apartment increased to $1,188/month. We don't think thi s is affordable for most of the families we house, so IHI caps annual rent increases at 3% per year and is committed to keeping  2-bedroom rents under $1,000/month and 3-bedrooms rents right around $1,000/month.  

For the past several years, the average income of IHI's residents has been 30% of area median -- about $17,000/year for an individual and $24,000/year for a family of four.
Innovative Housing Inc. 
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