Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
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Fall 2016

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

Always do your best!  Be the best that you can be.  Give it your best shot!  These are mantras we hear over and over, and most of us have probably internalized them.  But what does "your best" really mean?  Is it your personal, record-breaking best?   Or is it the best you can do given the circumstances you are in?  Life is complicated.  Work is hard.  It takes my best effort some days just to get through to bedtime. 
I've stood on the sidelines of many soccer games this fall yelling at my kids to get their heads in the game and play their best.  I find myself explaining to other parents that I'm not really a monster mom (who knows - maybe I am), that I don't care how talented my kids are or whether they win, I just want them to give it their best effort.  Same with school - I don't need geniuses.  I just want to know that they are doing their best, because anything else is shortchanging themselves and the people who are counting on them.  That's what I was raised to believe and I try to live that belief.  But I have to admit, when I am frazzled and too many things are coming at me, I don't make my best decisions.  I do my damndest to get everything done, but it isn't all getting done to the best of my abilities.  So . . . is my best the best that I can do on a good day or a bad day? 
The ramifications of understanding that we may not be able to do our true best under challenging circumstances are profound.  We all love an underdog story and the idea that when things get tough, the tough dig deep and get going.  Sometimes that does happen.  But in many cases, our circumstances dictate what our best can be and when that means a child cannot focus on schoolwork, a parent cannot provide food, or a veteran cannot get a job, we need to look harder at what we are doing as a community about those circumstances.  Research shows that the stress of poverty has a direct impact on people's decision-making abilities - one study demonstrated that being preoccupied with money problems can cause your brain to function as though your IQ were 13 points lower or you lost an entire night's sleep.  Stress related to housing instability and frequent moves has been documented to have negative impacts on adults and traumatic effects on children.  Studies also show that living in poverty increases trauma exposures and the effect of trauma can be long lasting and severe.  The data suggests, and personal experience helps illustrate, how incredibly challenging it must be for people struggling with poverty to do their "best."  External factors constrain this potential, which means that as a society we are missing out on massive amounts of human capital.     
What can we do with this understanding?  We can use it to design more effective support programs for households in financial crisis.  We can stop imagining that people live in poverty as a result of bad decisions and recognize that it might, in fact, be the other way around.  We can prioritize meeting people's basic needs so that the stress of worrying about where the next meal is coming from or where they will sleep tonight doesn't take every last bit of mental energy.  And those of us who are fortunate enough to be financially stable can recognize that our own circumstances, while trying and stressful at times, are nonetheless incredibly more likely to enable us to be the best that we can be.  With this realization, maybe we can take our best selves and help change the circumstances that are holding others back. 
IHI Says Yes! for Affordable Homes
Innovative Housing is excited to share our support for the historic Yes for Affordable Homes campaign, a bond measure that will be on ballot this fall.  Measure 26-179 is the first opportunity Portlanders have ever had to support affordable housing as a critical piece of our city's infrastructure.  The $258.4 million affordable housing bond will create permanently affordable housing for tens of thousands of people, and be dedicated to Portland's most vulnerable residents, including seniors, people with disabilities, and families struggling to house their children while working low-wage jobs. 
For over 30 years, IHI's mission has been to develop and operate high-quality, affordable housing and help our residents use their housing as a foundation for success.  We are making a difference for more than 1,000 households each year, but there are many more people who need affordable housing in our city.  We've seen the need increase year by year, finally reaching our current state of crisis.  Rents in Portland increased nearly 15% last year, with an average o ne-bedroom apartment in Portland now renting for $1,400/month.  Unfortunately, wages for most Portlanders aren't keeping up.  As a result, too many Portlanders are suffering in our communities, in shelters, and under our bridges  - Portland simply doesn't have enough affordable housing.

That is why IHI is all-in on the success of this ballot measure!  Our entire staff has volunteered with the campaign to get the word out about this important opportunity.  We have canvassed and phone banked to make sure that every voter knows now is the time to decide what kind of city we want to be.  Voting Yes for Affordable Homes on November 8 th says you support our neighbors who are struggling to stay housed, you believe that everyone deserves a safe, affordable home regardless of their economic status, and you want Portland to be a city for all. 

Please join us and lend your support to Yes for Affordable Homes.  Sign up here to learn more and get involved .   Most importantly, please vote YES on your ballot in November.  Measure 26-179 is the very last measure on the back of the ballot, so please be sure to go all the way to the bottom! 

Home is where it all begins.  It's where we start each day fresh and rested; it's where we launch our educational, professional, and personal paths; it's where we raise and nurture our families.  We all need a safe and stable home, but too many people in Portland don't have one.  This fall, we can change that and send a clear message that Portland is a city that cares about homes for everyone - vote Yes for Affordable Homes!  
IHI's 2016 FriendRaiser

Nothing beats a good house party!

IHI's 4th Annual FriendRaiser will be on Friday, October 21, 2016.  This year, IHI is throwing a "House Party" to celebrate our mission and our newest development -- a 12-story, high-rise, family building in The Pearl.  Guests will eat, drink, and dance to tunes spun by a live DJ at the Bridgeport BrewPub, just a few blocks from our new project site. 
Tickets are $50 per person and include heavy appetizers and a hosted bar.  There are a limited number of tickets available!  They can be purchased here.
Coffee for People Who Care

Blind Coffee Roasters, a local Portland company, has crafted a unique coffee blend just for IHI!  Dubbed the "Home" Brew, it is a specialty blend of smooth, rich coffee with distinctive flavors of sweet caramel, mixed roasted nuts, and milk chocolate.  $5 of every pound sold will be donated to IHI. 
Story Walks with 
The Giving Tree NW

This past August, IHI residents gathered with staff from The Giving Tree NW to hear stories about Portland and share their own stories about its various neighborhoods.  Participants traversed the City, visiting parks in the Pearl, viewing public art collections at the Portland Building and City Hall, and exploring Waterfront Park, among many other stops.  They also checked out the Portland Farmers Market together.   They learned about bike share, historic buildings and heritage trees.  Part history-tour and part story sharing, these S tory Walks were a huge hit with residents.
For their first walk, residents strolled to the Alphabet district, learning the history behind the street names and several public art displays.  They wandered through Tanner Springs Park located in the Pearl District and learned the area was once a wetland and lake fed by streams that flowed down from the nearby hills in southwest Portland.  These wooded hillsides provided a natural filter for the streams, cleansing the water as it made its way to the Willamette River.  As the population of Portland grew in the late 19th century, Tanner Creek was rerouted through an underground system of pipes to the Willamette River.  The lake and the surrounding wetland were eventually filled to make way for warehouses and rail yards, which in turn were replaced by residences, shops, and public spaces.  Today, the park sits about 20 feet above the former lake surface.  It has an Artwall that runs along the east edge of the park composed of 368 railroad ties set on end.   It integrates 99 pieces of fused glass inset with images of dragonflies, spiders, amphibians, and insects.  The images were hand-painted by Herbert Dreiseitl directly onto Portland glass, which was then fused and melted to achieve the final effect.  
As residents participated in the tour, several told their own stories about how the Pearl has changed over the years and shared their experiences in the community.  Many were excited and intrigued to learn about the rich history of our City.  Story Walks are a great way for anyone to learn more about Portland, but they are particularly valuable to some of our very low-income downtown residents, many of whom suffer from isolation and loneliness.  Experiencing Portland in an intimate, casual, and comfortable setting, with a group of other people, is a great way to help them build connections to their neighborhood as well as strengthen their sense of community and relationships with their neighbors.  We thank the Giving Tree NW for such a valuable experience and look forward to offering other, similar opportunities to our residents in the future!
Save The Date!

Oregonian's Give on 
Giving Tuesday

Celebrate generosity 
across all of Oregon!
   #OregongiansGive is a statewide day of giving on #GivingTuesday- November 29th .  This is the kick off to IHI's end of year giving campaign that will directly benefit our resident services program and support children, adults, and families living at our housing sites.  Be on the lookout for more information about #OregoniansGive as the date approaches.
Back to School

To help ease the financial strain of back-to-school time for families, IHI works with each school that serves our housing, 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!
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   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. 
For more information, please visit Fred Meyer Community Rewards .
Innovative Housing Inc.