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June 8, 2015
hope. access. potential
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Michael BuonocoreMessage from Michael Buonocore

What if we told you public housing is going away?

While that may sound dramatic, it’s fair to say this underfunded federal program is starving with little hope for adequate nourishment.  Rather than wait for a painful end, we’ve decided to take an evolutionary leap forward in our long-standing effort to sustain the many benefits our public housing portfolio brings the community.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve redeveloped three of our most distressed communities, sold and replaced inefficient single-family homes, used stimulus funding to renovate 18 properties, and launched our 85 Stories initiative to preserve our high rises that serve seniors and people with disabilities.

This is essential work.  The national public housing program provides homes affordable to the country’s most economically fragile citizens.  Our residents pay an average of $189 a month in rent – well below market in every neighborhood we serve.  At the same time, the federal funds that supplement these extremely low rents fall far short of what’s needed to maintain the real estate. 

Our federal partner, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is encouraging housing authorities to address this dilemma by converting the underlying subsidy for public housing to a form of rent assistance.  This approach preserves deep rent subsidies for residents while providing a more reliable, flexible financial foundation for the real estate.  This is the best option we have to ensure the future of this housing resource. 

Our board has adopted four principles to guide us through the conversion:  We will continue to serve very low-income residents, maintain control of the properties, improve both their physical and financial condition, and optimize public and private resources as we do so.

On behalf of more than 4,400 neighbors we serve with this program, we ask for your help during the multi-year process.  We will keep you posted on our progress.

Michael Buonocore's signature
Michael Buonocore, Executive Director

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We're Taking the Landlord Challenge to Help Vets

A home for every veteran who doesn’t have a place to live is a national priority that our community has embraced. There’s an abundance of resources to help make this happen:  the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and Home Forward have committed flexible funding that supplements the considerable federal rent assistance available, with a goal of finding homes for 500 vets by the end of 2015.

Unfortunately, the effort is short on homes themselves.  In today’s blistering rental market, apartments are snapped up before vets have a chance to apply for them.  
To help, Home Forward will offer 50 apartments for veterans experiencing homelessness as vacancies occur in our portfolio over the next six months.  "We've already provided homes for vets at many of our communities.  This pledge makes it more intentional and increases the supply available," said Michael Buonocore, executive director, "We're hoping other landlords, large and small, will join us in securing homes for the men and women who have given us so much."

In addition to making these apartments available, Home Forward administers 525 federal VASH rent assistance vouchers for vets and recently created a preference in its Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program for up to 50 vouchers for vets experiencing homelessness who don't qualify for veterans healthcare.  At the same time, the agency created a voucher preference for up to 200 families referred from Multnomah County's Homeless Family System of Care.

Learn more about A Home for Every Veteran>

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A Third of the Way and Showing

Plumbing at Northwest TowerNew plumbing at Northwest Tower

Our $50 million renovation project that secures the future of four of our high rises for seniors and people with disabilities is moving along briskly.  Work at Northwest Tower, Gallagher Plaza, Hollywood East, and Sellwood Center ranges from replacing failing heating systems, plumbing, and building envelopes to improving community areas, lighting, and apartment fixtures.  Residents who need to leave their homes temporarily during the construction stay in apartments in their building that have been furnished as hotel suites with everything they need for daily living.  When the renovations are complete in early 2016, the buildings’ major systems will be good to go for another 30 years and residents will enjoy the many benefits, like faster hot water, that come with the improvements.

Learn more about 85 Stories>

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One of Our Design Stars to Cast a Brighter Light

Julie Livingston

Architect and Senior Project Manager Julie Livingston has been appointed to the City of Portland’s Design Commission.  The seven-member group provides leadership and expertise on urban design and architecture and on maintaining and enhancing Portland’s historical and architectural heritage.  Julie led the design team for each of our three HOPE VI redevelopments, starting with New Columbia.  In 2009, she received our annual Judi Pitre Award for outstanding service to residents in recognition of her career achievements using great design to improve life in our apartment communities.

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Healthy Partnerships Bloom at Hollywood East

Project Networ/Beech St. ground breakingResidents work on a bountiful crop in the new community garden beds 

A neighboring business and a non-profit partner stepped up to help residents revive the community garden at our apartments in Portland’s Hollywood district.  Volunteers from Whole Foods Market and Portland YouthBuilders spent an afternoon with residents rebuilding garden beds that will yield a crop of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, squash, carrots, kale and berries.  In addition to providing willing hands and strong backs, Whole Foods sponsored the garden with donations from savings earned by customers who brought their own shopping bags to the grocery store.

Apartment residents tackled the project after learning their fellow residents wanted to develop healthier eating habits.  Hollywood East provides 286 deeply subsidized homes for seniors and people with disabilities.



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View the Dashboard Report here


THE OREGONIAN: Officials pledge 500 units of affordable housing in good Portland neighborhoods

STREET ROOTS: Kay Reid: a neighbor and a storyteller

THE PORTLAND OBSERVER: A theatre for real life


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