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It’s Wednesday morning and a half-dozen women are fastening their tool belts and setting up saw horses in front of a PCRI rental home. There’s some serious work that’s about to happen here, but the real purpose goes much deeper than what first meets the eye.
The crew that’s getting ready to install new floors in PCRI’s affordable rental home is a Trades and Apprenticeship Careers Class (TACC) from Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. The class is a free seven-week pre-apprenticeship training program that helps women prepare for high-wage, high-skill construction careers through hands-on construction experience, classroom instruction and field trips. Upon graduation, the program helps graduates with job searches, applications to apprenticeship training programs, and post-placement support.
Hands-on construction experience brings students into PCRI’s homes during the course of the class. Several groups of students will complete phases of new floor installation including removing old carpet tack strips, installing the new floor and re-installing doors and trim. At other PCRI homes, Oregon Tradeswomen students have built new fences and re-built porches and decks.
“It’s good work that offers a sense of accomplishment for our students,” said Amy James Neel, Instructor and Job Placement Specialist at Oregon Tradeswomen.
These diverse projects provide useful training opportunities for the students. Just as importantly, they help supplement PCRI’s maintenance crew in order to more quickly prepare homes for future renters.
“It’s part of our values to serve the community—not just through the hundreds of women we serve through our program, but for the many non-profits we assist,” said Dawn Jones, Training Manager at Oregon Tradeswomen. “We’re grateful to have PCRI as a consistent and true partner for us in providing a wide range of skill-building opportunities for our students that at the same time help ensure affordable housing in our Northeast community.”
While PCRI and Oregon Tradeswomen have a long history of partnership, cooperation between the two organizations is reaching new heights: including both student and paid instructor time, Oregon Tradeswomen crews have worked over 1,000 hours on PCRI projects so far in 2011.
“This is a great path for our two organizations. At the core of our efforts are affordable housing and living wage jobs,” said Maxine Fitzpatrick, PCRI Executive Director. “And it’s personally rewarding to see the women in these classes empowering themselves to create a better future for themselves and their families.”
Oregon Tradeswomen will offer one more 7-week TACC classes in 2011. Classes start August 30. Women interested in joining Oregon Tradeswomen’s program should visit www.tradeswomen.net or call (503) 335-8200 for more information.
Part of PCRI’s vision is to provide services that help our residents gain the tools needed to become stable, self-sufficient and eventually build wealth. While we have residents in every area of the continuum between stability and wealth building, the ultimate wealth-building goal of our residents is often to buy their own home, building equity and wealth that can be passed on to younger generations.
Residents who become first-time homebuyers provide some of the success stories that exemplify PCRI’s vision of self-sufficiency and wealth building. The LaRose family is one of those success stories.
Before their recent home purchase, the LaRoses lived in a PCRI rental home for two years. Understandably, they are excited to be homeowners. Mr. LaRose (pictured below) summed it up this way: “I am no longer paying someone’s mortgage with my rent payments. Now I am paying my own mortgage and adding value to my own net worth.”
PCRI’s Homeownership Program helped the LaRoses navigate the sometimes complicated path to ownership, providing direction, one-on-one consultation and support.
One facet of that support was particularly meaningful for Mr. LaRose.
“Don’t let past mistakes with your credit deter you,” he said. “Sit down with a homeownership counselor and determine where you are at and where you need to be.”
PCRI’s free Homeownership Program, financial education workshops and culturally-specific individual counseling opportunities are available to all PCRI residents. More information is available on in the Services area of our website or by calling our office.
In late 2010, PCRI re-structured and re-organized our property management and property maintenance departments. While PCRI’s commitment to quality affordable housing has not changed, some of our basic procedures are a little different than they used to be. Here’s a quick summary of these basic procedures that may have changed as well as a reminder of ones that are of general interest:
EMERGENCIES: PCRI’s maintenance crew wants to ensure that all residents have a safe and secure place to live with their families. If an emergency comes up that endangers your health and safety, please use this emergency process:
Step 1: Only contact the emergency number for real emergencies such as:
- No heat or no hot water
- Severe leaks and flooding, including leaky roofs
- No electricity
- Inoperable toilet (if there is only one usable toilet in your home)
Step 2: Call emergency number
- During office hours: 503-288-2923 (our main office)
- After hours, holidays and weekends: 503-265-9634
- PLEASE NOTE: The after hours phone will not accept blocked or restricted numbers. This number should be used only for maintenance emergencies that occur outside of our regular office hours – this number is not monitored during office hours.
Step 3: Leave a message with your Name, Address, and Phone Number. Your call will be answered or returned as quickly as possible.
REPAIRS: We always want to know if the property you are renting is in need of repair. Certain types of repairs, if prolonged, can become very costly. As a resident in housing owned by PCRI, you also have a responsibility in the maintenance of your home.
- Your first responsibility is to let us know (call in/submit a work order)
- If you live in a single family home, you are required to maintain the outside of your home as well as the inside – including proper yard maintenance
- Do not allow vegetation to grow in your gutters (we will clean them if you notify us) nor should you allow the downspouts to drain back towards the foundation
- In all rental units, certain items are considered “consumable” or require regular maintenance and are the responsibility of the renter to repair or replace – these items include, but are not limited to: smoke detector batteries, light bulbs, drip pans (for stove top) and grease filter for range hood, refrigerator condiment bars, drawers and shelves, furnace filters, window blinds, cleaning (including carpets), and any items damaged by your use.
Of course if you need help with any of these items, let us know. If you have an exceptional situation (high ceilings, specialty bulbs, etc…) or are physically unable to perform a task, we will try to accommodate any reasonable request. We can help in other situations too, though you may be charged for labor and materials.
And … a good news reminder: $75 FOR A REFERRAL! You can receive $75 as a referral bonus if someone you refer is approved and moves into a PCRI rental property.
By the way … don’t just stop at renting! Tell somebody about your experience, about the great programs, about the activities that PCRI offers … and if you don’t know what we offer, call our office and ask for the Programs Department.
On June 23, 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The NOFA was a collaborative effort of HUD, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create the Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI).
I understand when your time is absorbed with managing a family, working a job, or perhaps searching for a job, you may think, “Who has time to think about government things like a NOFA, HUD, DOT, EPA or SCI?” You may also ask yourself, “HUD, NOFA, DOT, SCI, EPA; what are they about and how do they matter in my life?”
Let’s start by reviewing what the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University recently wrote in a document specifically prepared for and about Portland, Oregon:
The policies, practices and assumption that have historically guided our models of planning and development have created uneven opportunities and burdens that are perpetuated today by the status quo. In our cities, the targeted disinvestment of our inner urban communities and the flight of resources to the urban fringe have produced extreme isolation for the marginalized communities, resulting in segregation into unhealthy environments where entire neighborhoods are detached from the critical life-sustaining opportunity structures needed to survive and thrive in our 21st century society.
When I first heard of SCI, I had many questions from both a personal and professional perspective. So, I began to read and, if you are familiar with reading government documents, then you will agree with me: it made for difficult and complicated reading. There were many hmmmms during my reading, which I am not ashamed to say took more than a once-through to understand. Reading the Kirwan Institute’s writings helped my understanding as they repackaged the federal information in everyday wording.
By reading these documents, I discovered what the federal government was attempting to do and why. I already knew the problems they were talking of existed. What excited me was the federal government finally knew it. They realize there are historical social inequities that have deprived low-income and communities of color from access to opportunities which exclude them from the decision making process that directly impact their lives and livability, and as a result, they are being negatively impacted. SCI is the federal government’s way of addressing this.
Based on income capacity, lower income residents contribute to community livability, however they are not benefiting from that livability in a manner equal to their contribution. The federal government is now saying this must be corrected. SCI builds the opportunity and expectation for regional (urban, rural and suburban) governments to work together and correct the problem by identifying affordable housing options, transportation needs, economic needs and energy conservation systems for the region by defining a single, integrated plan for growth in the region and establishing performance goals with must meet targets consistent with HUD-defined livability principles.
There are more requirements, however, I will stop here and keep you updated as this work progresses because it will require your participation as a City of Portland resident. Multnomah County will have to engage traditionally marginalized residents in the creation of a shared vision and the creation of a new way of accomplishing, at least minimally, the following goals: more and better transportation choices, adequate types and amounts of affordable housing, and educational and employment opportunities that will allow all Portland residents to thrive. There are many other goals to achieve, but for a start, don’t you think these will do?
I have tried to reduce this information as much as possible. There is much more to SCI and the federal government’s plans than I can share in one writing. Next time, I will share HUD’s livability principles with you.
If we are to combat social and economic inequities, we must become engaged in the process. It may mean you need to attend a Saturday meeting when it’s your only day of rest, or going to a meeting after working hard all day. It may mean helping with a survey in your neighborhood or attending school board, local or state governmental meetings to share what you believe is a solution to inequitable living environments. We know the problems, and with the creation of the SCI, the federal government is telling us that they too are aware. Our work is not to identify the problem. Our work is to provide the solution. No one can do that as well as you.
“Poverty is not created by poor people. It is created by the system we have built, the institutions we have designed and the concepts we have formulated.” – Muhammad Yunus
Let’s work together to change the system we have built!
Dr. Algie Gatewood is not only president of the Cascade Campus of Portland Community College, he is also a member of PCRI’s Board of Directors. He has served on PRCI’s board for three years and as campus president for over six years. Dr. Gatewood was attracted to PCRI because of the core mission of providing decent housing to low to moderate income families.
“If people are worried about housing, they aren’t going to do well. Everybody is entitled to a decent place to live. It’s important for me to see all sectors of society succeed.”
As campus president, Dr. Gatewood strives to expand PCC’s “open door” enrollment policy. “We want to provide greater access to under-represented groups, especially those who are from communities of color, those who speak English as a second language, those with disabilities, and those who are economically disenfranchised.”
As a campus of the community, Dr. Gatewood refers to his vision as a “Chautauqua.” He goes on to explain that PCC Cascade Campus is not just a place for learning; it is a meeting place, a place for dialogue and discussion, an aid to facing challenges, and a network that can link us to new opportunities. In short, he sees Cascade Campus as a beacon of hope in our area and an institution people look to in order to improve their lives.
Dr. Gatewood’s hope for anyone enrolled at PCC is “to increase their ability to earn a decent salary, find careers and have good lives.” He knows that in order to succeed in the job market with the economy the way it is, education is key. He says PCC Cascade can educate and prepare students for a new economy by providing education in information and technology, as well as the services provided by the Middle College Program and the Margaret Carter Skill Center.
Dr. Gatewood expressed several challenges as well. PCC Cascade Campus is serving more students with less money. When they completed the current fiscal year that ended on June 30th, 2010, the campus had the highest enrollment in the history of the college with 20,091 unduplicated students who had attended classes on PCC Cascade campus.
“The challenge is: how do you keep the cost of tuition and fees affordable so the Open Door [open access and open enrollment] does not become a Closed Door.”
Another challenge the college faces is related to parking—”a great opportunity for co-existence between the college, residents in the community and business organizations exists, an opportunity to work together.”
PCRI and PCC Cascade campus share the same goals when it comes to helping you, as residents of PCRI. We want to see every family continue to improve and keep in step with changes and advancements in employment as well as other facets of your life. As Dr. Gatewood jokingly says, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I like to keep one in my back pocket as well.”Prior to serving at Portland Community College, Gatewood was the Director of Health, Education and Welfare and Assistant Director of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, under jurisdiction of the University of North Carolina system, from 1997 to 2004. He received his Ed.D. from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1994.
Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives Inc.
6329 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Portland, OR 97211
Tel: (503) 288-2923 Fax: (503) 288-2891
PCRI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community development organization providing affordable rental housing to low-income families, primarily in North and Northeast Portland. Since 1992, PCRI's vision has been to provide affordable housing and associated services that achieve family stability, self-sufficiency and wealth creation.