By summer 2024, a private-public development team hopes to have 137 low-cost apartments ready on a large urban parcel that formerly housed a Christian television station. Catholic Charities of Oregon is playing a key role.

The project at Northeast 74th and Glisan in Portland, a mile north of Ascension Parish, is one of nine the Portland Housing Bureau recently recommended for funding from Metro’s Affordable Housing Bond, a $652.8 million measure passed by voters in 2018. The projects are meant to address Portland’s severe housing crisis, made unmistakable by tent encampments around the city.

Catholic Charities, which has become a favored housing partner of local governments, will be part owner of a 41-unit building and provide on-site case management and other services to help formerly homeless residents gain stability and remain housed. The second building, with 96 units for families, will be owned in part and operated by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization. The two organizations plan to share insights and their particular expertise. Related Northwest, which specializes in affordable housing, is lead developer.

High rents leave Portland-area families struggling, said Travis Phillips, who leads housing efforts at Catholic Charities of Oregon. Housing costs, combined with mental illness and other factors that lead to homelessness, have left the region feeling chaotic, he said.

“I am so happy to see that voters in our region recognize the need and put their money where their mouth is to find solutions,” Phillips said.

Phillips said that formerly homeless clients have said they benefit from living near people with similar experience who are trying to get back on their feet. The proximity leads to mutual support and feeling accepted. For that reason, the supportive housing units will be bunched together. But just next door will be the family units, which will welcome those who have gained stability.

The project is meant to be a place for comebacks. Jill Chen of the Portland Housing Bureau said the housing, services, and business classes will combine to help residents become self-sufficient and then thrive. “It’s hard to maintain a job when you’re homeless,” she said. The city not only is acquiring money for construction, but will help residents get federal housing aid so they can afford to stay. By city agreement, the development will remain lower cost for at least 99 years.

The development will include a community room and kitchen, laundry room, playground, picnic area, community garden, bike parking, surface parking, and onsite multicultural preschool. Mercy Corps NW will offer classes to help residents start small businesses. There will be retail slots for the budding entrepreneurs and a café on the ground floor.

“I can’t wait to see how each and every resident adds their unique life experience to build a healthier, more resilient community,” said Dan Ryan, the Portland city commissioner in charge of housing.

The Metro bond aims to fund 3,900 housing units in the metro area. Portland officials are using part of the money to create 300 units for people who have been living on the streets.

“Our neighbors who face the steepest barriers to housing will have a real chance to find stability and safety, heal and move forward thanks to critical wraparound services,” said Deborah Kafoury, chairwoman of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. “We know we can provide a lot of affordable and supportive housing just by paying down rents in market-rate apartments. But we also need developments like these to meet our affordable housing needs.”



SIDEBAR

Progress in North Portland

The roof is going on a 110-unit development near the foot of the St. Johns Bridge. Catholic Charities of Oregon has collaborated with Related Northwest on Cathedral Village and will provide social services at the site, due to open next year. Workers will spend the winter completing the interior. A waiting list for residents will start at the beginning of the year. The building has units set aside for people who have been homeless.

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