Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
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Did you know that Innovative Housing, Inc. is part of a growing coalition to make our region a place we can afford to call home? Welcome Home is a coalition of 120 organizations including social service providers, affordable housing developers, neighborhood associations, labor unions and justice advocates and more. Together we are dedicated to building back our affordable housing infrastructure in the Portland Metro area!
If you're passionate about your community like we are, we encourage you to also join Welcome Home! Here are links to follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Sign up for their newsletters. But we also encourage you to get involved because building a movement takes time, dedication and dollars! Here are a few specific ideas: You can attend the monthly Leadership Academy, Donate for housing solutions, and volunteer to support the campaign. For more information go to

Spring 2016

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

I entered the world of affordable housing through homeless services, starting my career at Jobs for Homeless People in Washington, D.C. where I provided admin support for a group of career counselors and job placement specialists.  Our work was based in the capitol's largest homeless shelter, artfully named the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV).  While employment and income were great, it became clear that we had to tackle housing, as that was the one thing that could actually solve homelessness.

Back then, most jurisdictions addressed homelessness with shelters.  People who accessed services and demonstrated success could graduate to transitional housing, and eventually their own apartment.  Today's conventional wisdom is that we should move people into homes as quickly as possible and provide them with wraparound supports to help them succeed.  This "Housing First" model has been widely accepted as best practice for addressing chronic homelessness and most of our current homeless resources are structured around this model.  The problem Portland now faces, along with many other cities across the nation, is that we don't have enough affordable housing. 

Thanks to Portland's desirability, high rates of in-migration, and lack of housing production between 2008-2011, we have a housing shortage that is driving up rents at double digit rates.  Low-income people cannot afford new housing and they are losing the housing they have to demolition, flipping, and rent hikes.  This affordability crisis is exacerbating our homeless crisis, as more men, women, and children find themselves without homes.  The irony is that Portland, like many other cities, largely dismantled its shelter system in favor of a Housing First model that relies on the availability of housing we don't have, so there is nowhere for people to go.

Dedicated experts have developed a thoughtful, long-term plan to address homelessness in our community.  In the meanwhile, we must focus on strengthening a temporary, regional shelter system.  Portland has taken steps to do this, easing zoning code requirements for siting and opening two new temporary shelters.  The City also increased funding to extend both the family and women's winter shelters to year round operations.  Still, we need more shelter beds and we need them distributed throughout the City and County.  The City should not run shuttles to and from Old Town every night; rather, neighborhood shelters should offer storage, extended hours, and service coordinators on-site so people can connect with resources they need in the communities where they live.  Wapato is not the answer - it is a political and financial quagmire all by itself; making it the most expensive homeless shelter in the nation isn't going to help. 

As the weather improves and seasonal, homeless "travelers" start to arrive, Portland needs a decisive response to homelessness.  We must determine how many people we can and should shelter every night, how to make hard calls about who is entitled to that shelter, and how we enforce camping laws.  Portland's leaders must hear that we don't accept parks as our default shelter system and that City-sanctioned homeless camps are not the solution - more than a few very organized camps cannot be maintained, patrolled, or supported at responsible levels. 

Portland needs more affordable housing.  We are short of meeting our region's needs by an estimated 40,000 units.  The City has deployed all available resources and the delivery system is geared up to build, but we will need more money to fill the gap.  Please be willing to invest in this critical piece of infrastructure when the time comes to vote.  For now, we need temporary shelter and a balanced approach to managing public spaces.

I recognize it is easy for me to sit on the sidelines and issue dictates about how to solve a very complex issue.  It probably isn't as simple as creating safe, humane places for people to sleep until we are able to develop enough permanent, affordable housing to meet our needs.  Or is it? 
IHI Awarded Meyer Grants for Innovation and Asset Management

Inn ovative Housing is honored and excited to announce that Meyer Memorial Trust has awarded us nearly $150,000 through its Innovations in Affordable Housing Design, Finance and Construction Initiative to model and test a new way to bring large, family housing online quickly and economically.  IHI proposed using three and four-bedroom manufactured homes in a non-traditional way to create multifamily rental communities that can be developed for about half the cost of traditional construction and in much less time.  Meyer agreed that this was an idea worth exploring, so IHI will spend the next 18 months working with city planners to address zoning code issues, brokers to locate appropriate sites, lenders to address various financing challenges posed by this unique building type, and funders to identify capital sources for our pilot project. 

We are partnering with IRCO and the Asian Family Center to use this opportunity to create housing that is attractive and accessible to Asian communities that are underrepresented in affordable housing and within IHI's portfolio.  Our goal is to create a rental community for large families that offers the aesthetics and amenities of single family homes with rents that are affordable to low-income households.  As depicted in our rendering, we will include green space and play areas for children and hope to achieve a community where everyone has a front porch and knows their neighbors.  We will keep you posted on our progress as we move forward on this exciting new project!

We are equally happy to share that Meyer Memorial Trust has included IHI in its second Sustaining Portfolios Strategy round, which will provide us with funds, skills training, and technical assistance to increase our asset management capacity.  IHI has long prioritized this work and very actively manages our properties.  The result is a high-performing  portfolio that generates significant operating support for the organization.  We are poised to increase our actively-owned units by 50% over the next three years, so Meyer's support is perfectly timed.  MMT's investment in IHI will strengthen our internal capacity and prepare us for future growth, ensuring that IHI's current and future residents have safe, healthy, and financially sustainable homes for years to come.  Thank you Meyer Memorial Trust! 
IHI Residents Out and About!

As part of our Teen Mentor Program, IHI staff took teen residents from three of our family sites on a day trip to Western Oregon University for a college tour.  Below, the group gathers in front of the Neil W. Werner University Center before going into the college fair.  At right, a picture with Wolfy, Western Oregon's mascot!

Kat Lentz and Cathy Mounts, IHI's Resident Service Coordinators at Musolf Manor, took residents on a trip to the Oregon Zoo.  They enjoyed the outing and the animals-and even got close enough to take some great pictures!

New Family Housing Shaping Up in the Pearl

Innovative Housing and our development team of Salazar Architects, LRS Architects, and Bremik Construction are moving forward on designs for a 12-story multifamily building at NW 14th/Raleigh.  Originally proposed as a six-story structure, our design team is working hard to carry over dynamic design elements from the smaller building to a much larger building.  At right is our current rendering, which will include an interior courtyard as well as a roof deck and, hopefully, a small coffee shop on the ground floor!
Sweetbriar  Elementary  Teachers Invest in  Children  Outside 
the Classroom

It has become widely accepted that student success increases when parents engage in their children's education.  At IHI, we have also learned how significant it is when teachers engage with children outside of school.  Thanks to the generosity of teachers and administrators at Sweetbriar Elementary School, we see this amazing result every week at Hewitt Place Townhomes.  
IHI's Resident Service Coordinator, Marisa Monteverde, attended a parent night with residents this Fall and had the opportunity to connect with several teachers and the principal at Sweetbriar.  They became so interested in partnering with IHI to improve school/home relationships that Mrs. Richardson, a second grade teacher, created a sign-up sheet for teachers to volunteer at our after-school program.  We were amazed to learn that
every teacher and administrator in the school signed up , including the principal!  That means that someone from Sweetbriar comes to Hewitt Place every Wednesday afternoon to volunteer at our after-school program.  Teachers have been helping children with reading, math, English language acquisition, and homework, along with other fun activities. 
The teachers' participation after school has been an incredibly positive experience for everyone involved.  The kids love it - they look forward to the day their teachers come on-site and teachers say they feel like celebrities when they pull up to the community room.  Teachers have also expressed that they have so much fun they want to come out more often.  We are hoping to continue our partnership throughout the summer, with teachers engaging in reading and other activities with the children.  IHI is extremely grateful to the educators at Sweetbriar for giving their time above and beyond the school day and excited about the positive results of their generosity.  We all win when children know that they are surrounded by people who care! 

New Partner:
The Giving Tree

IHI is teaming up with The Giving Tree NW to offer new programs to residents at our downtown properties.  The Giving Tree is a local nonprofit that provides art, education, and recreation opportunities to residents of affordable housing to help reduce isolation, increase personal resilience, and foster healthy communities.  
Thanks to a grant from the Ebay Foundation, The Giving Tree is piloting a new program called Branches and invited IHI to participate.  IHI residents at the Whitmarsh Building and the Erickson Fritz Apartments will benefit from on-site classes and workshops that focus on art exploration, healthy eating, and getting to know downtown Portland through walking tours.  The Branches program will culminate in a public exhibition at the Erickson Gallery that features art and creative expression.  IHI is happy to take part and to work with our new partners at The Giving Tree! 
Health and Housing: 
Data Shows Value  of 
On-site Services

IHI is pleased to announce a new partnership with Concordia University School of Nursing that brings nursing students on-site to IHI's largest property.  Over the last two years, Innovative Housing has been part of a learning collaborative convened by Enterprise Community Partners to explore the nexus between healthcare and affordable housing.  As part of our work, The Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE) conducted an in-depth study based on 145 affordable properties.  The study documents that within a year of moving into affordable housing, residents increased their use of primary care by 20%, had 18% fewer emergency department visits, and reduced their accumulated medical expenditures by 12%.  Residents also reported better access to and quality of health care.  Significantly, the CORE study documented that a key driver of positive health care outcomes is on-site, integrated health services.  

To this end, we are very excited that Concordia student nurses are now working on-site at Musolf Manor!  Residents receive priority for housing at Musolf Manor if they are seniors or have a disability, and many of our residents suffer from chronic conditions.  Concordia nursing students at the property provide extra support to help residents manage these conditions and care for themselves.  Foot care clinics are one extremely beneficial service the nursing students provide that residents and staff really appreciate.  Many of our residents are unable to personally care for their feet due to health conditions, which eventually results in foot problems that can hinder their ability to move comfortably.  At the foot care clinic, residents have the opportunity to sit down with a student nurse, get their feet washed, have lotion applied, and have their toenails clipped and filed.  This seemingly small gesture is actually quite significant in our residents' lives - knowing that someone cares enough to do this lifts their spirits, and physically addressing foot issues that cause pain helps them be more mobile and independent.  The nurses can also refer residents to doctors and help them make medical appointments if they find anything that needs further medical attention. 

Another health need that student nurses are addressing at Musolf Manor is nutrition.  When they learned that many Musolf Manor residents do their grocery shopping at local convenience stores in Old Town, they took the initiative to go above and beyond to help our residents eat healthier.  Taking into consideration the financial and transportation obstacles facing our residents, the student nurses challenged themselves to come up with healthy eating options using food that is available locally.  They visited each convenience store, took note of what items they sell, and at what price.  The nurses then developed healthy recipes using food items that Musolf residents can easily access and will be offering cooking demonstrations to residents to help them improve their diets. 

Next Fall, we will expand our partnership with Concordia School of Nursing to include The Clifford Apartments, another IHI property where residents will greatly benefit from on-site health services.  We at IHI are thrilled with this new partnership and look forward to continuing our work with Concordia in the future. 

April First Thursday at the  Erickson Gallery

Erickson Gallery at the Erickson Fritz Apartments
9 NW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR 97209
6-8 pm

You are invited to April's First Thursday event at the Erickson Gallery featuring local artist Glen H. Larsen.  Public art installations created by James Harrison, Evan Holt, Dave Laubenthal, and Natalie Ball will also be available for viewing in the Erickson Courtyard. 

Glen H. Larsen grew up in Ogden, Utah and moved to Los Angeles as an adult where he lived for ten years. Fourteen years ago he decided to try his hand in the Pacific Northwest and he came to Portland. He lives and works downtown, and spends a lot of time in his studio where he creates his paintings.  Glen is an experimental painter using bold color and design to express how he sees or feels.  Glen takes a minimalist/constructionist approach, rendering down the elements that he has chosen to work with to their simplest form, line, color, and arrangement.  He does not focus on working an image into a space, but working to make the space the image.  "I see my works as pieces of space looking for a blank space to fill." 

Innovative Housing Inc.