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Amy’s teamwork and outstanding leadership earned her the employee of the month honor, in particular for her work to establish our newest program which assists residents with credit building. Her enthusiasm and caring service makes Amy an asset to PCRI and the community we serve.
We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Amy for her outstanding service since she began working with PCRI in January 2014 as our Financial Education Specialist.
Residents, Vendors, Contractors, Visitors, Staff, Partnering Agencies and others are encouraged to nominate a PCRI employee who they feel should be recognized for their efforts to make PCRI the best it can be (click here for a nomination form, which can be submitted via email). The success and growth of the organization depends on employees’ dedication to the betterment of the community we serve.
PCRI, REACH and others came together recently to complete critical home repairs for four low-income seniors in NE Portland neighborhoods. PCRI staff and other volunteers joined REACH Community Development for Community Building Day on Saturday, August 15.
Ms. Johnson, a client of PCRI’s Senior Homeownership Retention Program, was one of the seniors whose home was cared for by the Community Building volunteers, including Retention Program Coordinator Lisa Williams (pictured at left). With fresh exterior paint and other improvements, Ms. Johnson’s house not only looks good, but will also ensure she can remain safe and stable in her home for years to come.
“It was so great to be working in community to help Ms. Johnson out,” said PCRI staff member Kirk Rea, one of the volunteers. “Her family, friends, plus folks from different agencies showed up, and we had youth to elders working and laughing together. The positivity and service I saw us all activate, just by painting a home, gives me hope that we can keep rolling back the barriers and hardships of our most vulnerable people.”
In addition to painting, volunteers installed two wheel chair ramps and completed plumbing repairs for the seniors who were selected for Community Building Day improvements.
The Community Building Day is an initiative of REACH with the support of Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives (PCRI) and the Urban League of Portland. Two of the event’s beneficiaries were referred by PCRI and the Urban League. Special thanks to the event underwriters, The Grainger Foundation and Macy’s Community Giving, both of whom sent awesome volunteers! In-kind support was provided by Walsh Construction Co., Miller Paint, Pipeline Plumbing, M & M Contracting Services, LMC, Inc., Greg Clarke Photography and Mike Beeson.
The Community Building Day highlights the extensive free home repair work the Community Builders Program does year round. The Community Builders Program, a program of REACH, is dedicated to helping older adults and people with disabilities age safely in their homes by providing free home repairs. PCRI’s Senior Homeownership Retention program helps area seniors connect with programs such as the Community Builders Program. Through advocacy, referrals and financial support, the program helps seniors retain homeownership and age in place.
On July 1, 2015, PCRI unveiled a new solar power system atop the Maggie Gibson Plaza building in Portland’s Alberta Arts neighborhood. In its first month, the new system generated 1.48 MWh, approximately enough energy to power two typical single-family homes for a month.
The solar system provides power for the building’s common residential and commercial spaces and exterior lighting and is expected to save PCRI over $2,000 per year in energy costs. In addition to generating clean, renewable energy, future cost savings from the system will help PCRI sustain Maggie Gibson Plaza’s affordable rental housing and community-serving commercial retail space, a rarity on desirable NE Alberta Street.
“Low income families are disproportionately impacted by the poor environmental conditions and high utility bills,” said Travis Phillips, PCRI’s Housing Development Manager. “Reducing Maggie Gibson Plaza’s energy costs helps PCRI maintain affordable housing for the residents who live here, but just as importantly, we are proud to improve the environment for current and future residents by generating clean, renewable energy.”
The solar photovoltaic system, installed by Portland firm Synchro Solar, was made possible by a $48,450 funding award from customers of Pacific Power’s Blue SkySM renewable energy program and approximately $10,500 in cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon. The project is one of over 75 renewable energy projects made possible with funding support from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky customers in the Northwest. Those curious about the installation can view energy production information on the system’s public site.
Additional energy-saving improvements will also be performed in the residential units at Maggie Gibson Plaza. Residents will benefit from lower utility costs through the installation of new energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, highly-efficient water heaters, appliances and lighting, among other improvements. Completion of improvements inside the residential units is anticipated in fall 2015.
BLUE SKY: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has ranked Blue Sky fifth or better in the nation for the 11th consecutive year in the number of customers buying renewable power. The Blue Sky Block, Usage and Habitat products are Green-e Energy certified. About 55,000 Pacific Power customers currently participate in the Blue Sky program across Oregon, Washington and California. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net/bluesky.
PACIFIC POWER: Pacific Power provides electric service to more than 730,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. Our goal is to provide our customers with value for their energy dollar, and safe, reliable electricity. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, with almost 1.8 million customers in six western states. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net.
ENERGY TRUST: Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save nearly $1.7 billion on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at www.energytrust.org or call 1-866-368-7878.
On July 28, 2015, PCRI staff and community partners joined as Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 3082. The bill helps low-income families maintain housing stability and move toward self-sufficiency as they increase their incomes while living in affordable housing.
HB 3082, created by Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives (PCRI) and introduced March 23, 2015 by Chief Sponsor Representative Lew Frederick and Regular Sponsor Senator Chip Shields, was approved earlier this year by the Oregon State House and Senate.
“It was an honor to work with PCRI, state legislators, statewide and housing advocates Housing Alliance and OON to get HB 3082 passed,” said Representative Frederick as he introduced the legislation. “It will mean longer term stability for families in need of affordable housing and has no fiscal impact on the state.”
The bill eases the “benefits cliff” faced by families as their incomes grow beyond 60% of Area Median Income (AMI), the maximum and prior threshold to qualify for affordable housing property tax exemptions if living in non-profit affordable housing.
The so-called “benefits cliff” refers to this sharp drop-off in benefits low-income families face as their income grows by as little as one dollar over a pre-determined threshold, such as the 60% AMI threshold. Easing the “cliff” provides organizations like PCRI additional tools to help residents achieve self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty.
Partners pictured with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, seated, are (from left to right) Val Valfre of the Oregon State Housing Council, David Wilcox and Travis Phillips of PCRI, John Miller of OON, Andrea Debnam of PCRI, Oregon State Representative Lew Frederick, Lincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall, and Maxine Fitzpatrick of PCRI.
The bill was supported by Oregon Opportunity Network (OON) and local leaders, including Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.
“Families who are working to improve their lives shouldn’t be penalized just as they begin to achieve better futures for their children,” Deborah Kafoury stated in a letter as the bill was presented to the House of Representatives’ Human Services and Housing Committee. “I believe that HB 3082 balances our efforts to provide affordable housing to those most in need with our investments in families who are working to attain self-sufficiency.”
Under Oregon’s prior laws, when a family earned even one dollar over the 60% AMI limit, they were at risk of losing their affordable rental housing. While PCRI works with residents to allow them to maintain their affordable housing as their income grows, HB 3082 allow government to extend the threshold for exemptions to 80% AMI (about $58,000 for a family of four) for existing residents. New renters would still need to earn less than 60% AMI at move-in, but would also be able to benefit from the flexible threshold which allows for increases in income over time.
PCRI received certification in July 2015 as a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counseling agency and concurrently became an affiliate member of HomeFree-USA, a leading HUD-approved homeownership development, foreclosure intervention and financial empowerment organization.
PCRI’s certification by HUD as a housing counseling agency and affiliation with HomeFree-USA lends additional strength to PCRI’s ongoing financial empowerment programs, such as housing counseling, homeownership retention for seniors, homebuyer education and financial literacy. The certification underscores PCRI commitment and success creating lasting stability and providing pathways out of poverty for low- and moderate-income residents and community members.
“We are tremendously excited about joining forces with HomeFree-USA,” said Andrea Debnam, PCRI Resident Services Manager. “When our organizations initially came together, it was evident that we both share a passion for empowering the people we serve. As we strengthen individuals & families by providing valuable resources to improve their lives – we ultimately build healthy, vibrant communities for us all.”
Recognition as a HUD-certified counseling agency also improves PCRI’s access to funding opportunities, which help PCRI increase capacity to support the families we serve and provide support for additional families. Most of PCRI’s financial empowerment programs are free of charge for residents and community members. Utilizing these programs, participants have reduced debt, increased credit scores, become first-time home buyers, and created stability which benefits their families immediately and for future generations.
PCRI, more than ever, is committed to empowering Portland families to achieve stability, self-sufficiency and wealth creation, including the American dream of homeownership.
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way they do business.
HomeFree-USA is a leading HUD-approved homeownership development, foreclosure intervention and financial empowerment organization. HomeFree-USA and its affiliates improve the financial position and enrich the lives of every-day people through homeownership and credit management.
For more information about PCRI or our financial empowerment programs, visit www.pcrihome.org/programs or call (503) 288-2923.
On May 19th, 22 PCRI residents and clients completed the PCRI Adult Financial Education Class. This is the second financial education class held in partnership with Banner Bank. The evening class held once a week for four weeks covers a range of personal finance topics.
Class participants appreciated getting answers to their banking, credit, and fraud questions from industry professionals. One PCRI resident commented, “I can do more and have more options when I need to pay a bill or get money.”
PCRI and Banner Bank will be partnering again in September 2015 to present another Adult Financial Education Class. All PCRI residents and clients are invited to sign up. If you are interested in learning more about the class, please contact Amy Dang, PCRI Financial Education Specialist, at 503-288-2923 ext. 131 or by email.
On Wednesday, June 3rd, five volunteers from AirBnB helped weed, mulch, and plant new vegetable starts for the community garden at PCRI’s Park Terrace Apartments. These community gardens give access to residents who cultivate individual garden plots. Common garden plots are open to the entire apartment community who can tend to and harvest from the plots.
Surplus food from the common plots is distributed through food pantries at Park Terrace and other PCRI community centers and the gardens also provide a space for youth education and engagement.
In addition to getting their hands dirty planting new vegetables (an abundant donation of veggie and fruit plants came from partner non-profit Growing Gardens), the volunteers helped turn a compost pile which is used to improve the soil in the garden beds. AirBnB staff volunteer in the community regularly, including previous support given to PCRI last autumn for a landscaping project.
PCRI extends our thanks to all the volunteers who help support our residents and to Growing Gardens for donating vegetables for the garden program.
Save the Date! PCRI’s 5th Annual Dancing with the Stars Portland Gala will be held Saturday, May 14, 2016 at the Hilton Portland and Executive Towers.
Sign up for PCRI’s mailing list to be the first to learn about the dancers who will compete in the 2016 gala and when tickets go on sale. We expect the event to once again sell out.
Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are also available.
Park Terrace Apartments resident Irene loves the fresh organic produce donated to PCRI by Organics to You. Besides baking, juicing, and making stews, Irene (pictured at right) is a master food preserver who has churned out jams and sauces in such abundance that after stocking her own pantry for the winter, Irene started donating back the preserved fruits to share with her Park Terrace neighbors.
For the past year, Organics to You, a local produce delivery business, has been donating organic fruit and vegetables that are distributed from PCRI’s three local community centers. PCRI staff or volunteers pick up the produce and distribute it to the centers, where it is available to residents thanks to Organics to You’s generous commitment to sustainability and community support. PCRI’s Margaret Carter Community Center also makes produce available to the greater public; typically produce is delivered on Thursdays by 11:00 a.m.
Produce is also used for programs and events, from holiday pot lucks to youth cooking classes. Food justice activist Mo Lohre helps PCRI residents learn food preservation so they, like Irene, have year-round access to healthy foods. Mo (pictured at left, in the center) also works with students from Irvington Middle School who volunteer to support PCRI’s Healthy Food Access Program.
Residents interested in free fresh fruit and vegetables can visit the Margaret Community Center on Thursdays between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., or contact Kirk Rea by email or by calling 503-282-1359. Two Thursdays a month include a lunch which demonstrates the diverse cultural traditions of PCRI residents. Volunteer opportunities are also available to support the Healthy Food Access Program.
Fun fact: Mo Lohre and volunteers from the non-profit Creating the Alternative use a bio-diesel/solar powered RV to pick up some of the Organics to You donations. PCRI staff and volunteers also do their part to maintain sustainability, performing many pick-ups by bicycle.
PCRI extends our sincere thanks to Organics to You and to the program volunteers for their generosity and support.
Providing homeownership opportunities and housing counseling assistance to low-income families ensures long-term affordability, stabilizes residents and their neighborhoods and helps families build equity and break the cycle of poverty.
In conjunction with the Pathway 1000 Initiative, PCRI is adding additional focus in current and future housing development efforts to increase opportunities for homeownership. PCRI’s goal is to address active and ongoing involuntary displacement of African Americans and other low income residents from the neighborhoods we serve.
During the period from the mid-1990’s to 2010 10,000 residents—primarily African Americans—were forced to relocate out of North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods. Essentially, 3 people every day for 10 years were forced to find another place to live.
To accomplish our goal of addressing involuntary displacement, PCRI established a displacement mitigation initiative, Pathway 1000, with the sole purpose and intent of slowing and reversing the involuntary displacement of long term residents previously forced to move from N/NE Portland, and current residents at risk of displacement. Through the Pathway 1000 initiative, PCRI aims to build and create at least 1,000 homes, many of which will be available to purchase. The homes will be located throughout the city of Portland, with the primary focus on the N/NE Portland neighborhoods where displaced families previously resided.
The 1,000 homes will be constructed at a level of 1000 homes per year over the next ten years. PCRI is targeting involuntarily displaced residents who were forced to relocated due to escalating housing costs, or because their rental home was sold to a homeowner. PCRI encourages interested community members to participate and learn more via PCRI’s website and social media channels, where a forthcoming questionnaire will be posted to determine eligibility and housing needs.
PCRI will also conduct a series of exploratory sessions with displaced residents and residents on the verge of displacement. These sessions will further determine the need as well as interest in taking advantage of the Pathway 1000 initiative and share more information about the opportunities to move back into historic, African-American populated NE Portland neighborhoods.
We cannot undo the harms done, but rather must focus on restoring housing justice for those who were harmed. PCRI’s goal is to support and encourage displaced African-Americans to focus on the future. Homeownership is the stabilizing solution to displacement. Investing in opportunities and assistance for low-income families ensures long-term affordability and stabilizes residents in their neighborhood.
Community development corporations like PCRI can support displaced residents by building community awareness of solutions through advocacy and civic engagement to create anti-displacement policy. Residents and community leaders have influence over planning and development in their neighborhood. Gentrification and displacement issues must be discussed and addressed on a regular basis. Residents must remind government leaders and city planners of displacement, and the reality of unintended consequences of strategic growth. Residents who are concerned and who have been impacted must get involved in their neighborhood and they must expect and encourage equitable development.
Update: PCRI’s Pathway 1000 Initiative is featured in the Portland Observer, June 2, 2015.
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.