Elijah Jamal Asani of VIBE PDX staffs the youth music room at Cathedral Village Apartments. “It’s a space for kids to come explore,” he said. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Elijah Jamal Asani of VIBE PDX staffs the youth music room at Cathedral Village Apartments. “It’s a space for kids to come explore,” he said. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
The newest residents of North Portland’s trendy St. Johns neighborhood include a retired school bus driver and a formerly homeless mother of four.

They live in the Cathedral Village Apartments, with an enviable view of the St. Johns Bridge, access to stores, a brief trip to school, a short walk to a library and rent that beats the market. Cathedral Village, completed in August, is 110 units of affordable housing developed by Catholic Charities of Oregon and Related Northwest. Eight apartments are reserved for people who have been homeless.

In addition to living space, Cathedral Village offers services aimed at keeping people housed and helping them increase their self-sufficiency, including case management and counseling. Young people are the focus of several programs. VIBE PDX, a local nonprofit, will run a music room that includes pianos, guitars, digital drums and mixers.

“People are looking for more than just housing,” Catholic Charities executive director Natalie Wood said Sept. 20 during a dedication ceremony at the North Portland building. “These units are a place to stay dry when it’s raining, a place to gather around a table to break bread with family and friends, a warm place to sleep when it’s cold and a safe place to learn English, math and science.”

Wood then broke into prayer, thanking God that “all, regardless of race, ethnicity, status, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability can call Cathedral Village home.”

More than half of the units are two- or three-bedroom apartments meant for families. Rents range from $519 to $1,576.

Commissioner Dan Ryan, who oversees the Portland Housing Bureau, said that in an earlier era Portland focused on housing for young single creative types. Ryan long has argued for more family housing, so the layout of Cathedral Village makes him happy.

“This development is family centered and student focused,” a beaming Ryan said at the dedication. “It’s about time.”

Cathedral Village is one of many projects funded in part by a 2016 housing bond passed by Portland voters.

“The people’s resources have contributed to the people’s housing,” said Mary Li, a member of the Oregon Housing Stability Council. Li called out Catholic Charities staff, calling them “the cool kids” of the affordable housing scene. The agency now operates and serves 960 units of housing for low-income people.

At Cathedral Village, half the units are rented already, and 200 families have joined a waiting list for the remainder. “That really shows the need,” said Travis Phillips, director of community development and housing for Catholic Charities. “It’s so important that we have options for people to live in all the different neighborhoods of Portland.”

“The need for stable housing in Portland is dire,” said Stef Kondor, head of Related Northwest. She went into extra paragraphs to praise Phillips and the rest of the Catholic Charities staff.

“Catholic Charities is a fantastic partner,” she said.

The two entities are hard at work on another affordable housing development at Northeast 74th and Glisan.

MWA Architects did the design of Cathedral Village, and LMC Construction was general contractor. The building, which is topped by solar panels, earned platinum certification from PHB Green Standards.