November 27, 2016 · Featured, PCRI

Credit Building Class flyer_12.16Are you looking for the best deals on a car? Cell phone? House? Loan? Understanding your credit is an important step to ensure you get the best bang for your buck. Join PCRI’s financial education program for a credit building class that covers a renter’s credit building tool, the ABCs of credit and includes insider tips on how to build credit, even rebuilding badly damaged credit.

When:  Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Where: PCRI Annex, 6601 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland

Due to limited seating please RSVP before Monday, December 12 to Suzanne Veaudry Casaus at (503) 288-2923 ext. 122 or by email. Click the photo at right for a downloadable flyer.

Interested in more information about PCRI’s financial education or homeownership programs? Learn more HERE. Additional classes will be offered each month; please check back for more information.

November 21, 2016 · Featured, Grant Warehouse, Pathway 1000, PCRI

PCRI is proud to be selected by Meyer Memorial Trust for a 2016 Housing Opportunities portfolio grant award. The grant, announced in November 2016, will help offset costs for PCRI to develop a large community center in the new building at the Grant Warehouse site which will serve residents as well as the larger community. Grant funds will also ensure the affordability of family-sized apartments in this new building, meeting Meyer’s goal of increasing the number of available affordable housing units.

Conceptual Rendering of Development at Grant Warehouse site (c) Carleton Hart Architecture

Conceptual Rendering of Development at Grant Warehouse site (c) Carleton Hart Architecture

In a post on Meyer’s website, Housing Opportunities portfolio director Theresa Deibele noted that equity and cultural competency were especially important for selected grantees, including PCRI and other organizations who predominantly serve communities of color. She added that selected grantees such as PCRI aligned well with Meyer’s equity mission, including work to reduce the disparities faced by marginalized people, support for vulnerable populations and commitments for contracting and employment opportunity.

“Equity also showed up in how projects are carried out,” Deibele wrote. “All capital projects reflected a commitment to use minority-owned, women-owned and emerging small business contractors.”

PCRI has made significant commitments to contracting equity in the development of the former Grant Warehouse site and other projects. This development will also be part of PCRI’s Pathway 1000 initiative, which has a significant component dedicated to contracting and employment. An implementation plan for this portion of the Pathway 1000 initiative is currently underway.

PCRI was among six organizations who were awarded grants for new housing development. All of the developments awarded will serve very vulnerable and high priority populations. A total of 282 new units are expected to be added to the state’s housing stock in part because of these awards, according to Meyer’s website.

Diebele noted the value in Meyer’s philanthropy to help ensure the viability of affordable housing which also leverages public and private funds.

“Many projects directly leverage large public investments, which often come from restricted funding sources (e.g., tax increment financing that must be spent on capital in a certain neighborhood region),” she wrote, “and philanthropy can play a role in helping to fund the staffing and support services needed to deploy such funds.”

PCRI is honored to have Meyer Memorial Trust’s support to develop the former Grant Warehouse site and is looking forward to beginning construction. As of November 2016, the development was pending building permit approval and finalization of financing terms. Construction is expected to begin in winter 2016-17.


November 18, 2016 · Featured, PCRI

Spending and credit habits can be easily tested during the holiday season: from temptation to overspend on those perfect gifts to discounts offered to open a store credit card. So it seemed to be a good time to revisit some tips shared at PCRI’s October financial education seminar.

how-credit-cards-workMyth: To get a high score, run up high balances on your credit cards.

Reality: Using  lot of credit is usually NOT good for your credit risk score. Roughly 30% of a FICO score is determined by a person’s reported debt, with particular emphasis on utilization of revolving credit such as credit cards (utilization = balance divided by credit limit). A rule of thumb is that people with high credit stores typically keep their utilization under 25% on credit cards.

Myth: Paying your credit card bill down to zero every month will boost your score.

Reality: Paying off your credit card is a great habit! You’ll avoid spending money on interest and likely keep your credit usage in the “good” zone. But … this great habit doesn’t necessarily translate into a higher credit score because scoring agencies generally see the balance as of a particular date, not how much is paid each month.

Myth: To raise your score quickly, open a new credit card or take out a loan.

Reality: The FICO score considers a wide variety of information about each reported account. A propensity to open new accounts and a short history on new accounts will likely hurt one’s credit more than help it. But if you take on new credit only as needed and use it responsibly, negative impacts of the new account will generally be offset within a few months.

lead_960Myth: To raise your score quickly, close any unused credit cards.

Reality: While it might seem like closing a credit card would help one’s credit score, that’s rarely the case. Having unused or available credit is more often viewed as a sign of lower risk for creditors. And although closing a credit card might be a worthwhile tactic so you don’t have the temptation to spend money you don’t yet have, it likely won’t boost your score (and might actually hurt it).

But you want to improve your credit score. What do you do? Here are the top suggestions from American Reporting Company:

  • Bring active past-due accounts current—and keep them current
  • Keep credit balances as low as possible, especially on credit cards
  • Request correction letters for any reporting errors
  • Limit new applications for credit cards or store accounts, but leave existing accounts open

So what are the factors that determine a FICO credit score?

  • 35% is based on your payment history for all accounts
  • 30% is based on the amount you owe on accounts
  • 15% is based on how long you have been using credit
  • 10% is based on your applications for new credit
  • 10% is based on types of credit used

Of course, these are just tips and recommendations. Your credit score considers deeper and more complex factors that just these few bullet points. Luckily, we can help. Join one of our upcoming financial education seminars or call us at (503) 288-2923 to make an appointment to meet with us one-on-one.

November 3, 2016 · Featured, PCRI

Winter holidays can create challenges for any budget. But for families who are already fighting to make ends meet, the pressures of holiday gifts can be even more difficult. To help this holiday season, PCRI is partnering with Portland Fire & Rescue for their Toy & Joy Makers Toy Drive.

Toy Drive 6Residents interested in receiving toys for their children should contact Adrena Christmas by December 1, 2016. Registration is required for the Toy Drive; Ms. Christmas is available to provide assistance during the Maya Angelou Community Center’s regular hours.

Portland Toy & Joy Makers helps low-income families in the Portland area give their children toys for Christmas, which they have been doing since 1914. They rely on the generosity of the community in order to make this possible.

“Please continue to help make a Christmas wish come true for some girl or boy,” says Toy & Joy Makers to community members that would like to help. They accept donations of toys or money. Check their website for information about where to donate as well as suggested toy donations.

PCRI helps families each year as well, connecting and registering families for toy drives to help make the holidays brighter for deserving children. In 2015, 97 resident children received toys through these programs. PCRI also provides comprehensive financial wellness and budgeting classes to help families become and remain financially stable year-round. Interested in learning more? Email us or check out information on our programs.

October 18, 2016 · PCRI

The 2016 election is full of firsts. One of those is Portland’s first ballot measure dedicating funds to create more affordable housing: Measure 26-179. We know there are currently not enough homes in Portland that are affordable to low-income families (or even many moderate-income ones), which is why PCRI supports and has endorsed this critical measure.

Yes4Homes“For many months now, Portland residents have lamented the soaring cost of housing in their city, but they’ve also felt helpless to do much about it,” said the Portland Tribune in their endorsement of the measure. “The Nov. 8 election offers a chance for them to make a dent in the problem through the best means possible — by actually increasing the supply of affordable places to live.”

The housing this measure will fund will be built to last—and will be required to last and remain affordable for at least 60 years. Street Roots noted that families served by this housing will span generations. Approximately 1,300 safe and stable homes created by this measure would provide housing for up to 58,000 people over the course of six (or more) decades of service.

Will one ballot measure fix the entire problem? No, but will help relieve some of the pressure of our housing crisis. And more importantly, it’s a prudent investment compared to doing nothing. In fact, the cost of a homeless individual spending one night in the emergency room can often be more expensive than rent for an entire year. And this doesn’t consider the challenges of children or adults facing housing instability.

“It’s tough showing up from a tent to earn or learn,” said the Oregonian in their endorsement of the measure.

“Portland’s housing gap won’t be filled soon, but Portlanders should approve the housing bond proposal as an investment in the well-being of the entire city, not just those at the lower end of the income scale,” the Oregonian added. “Prosperity and engaged citizenship, if they are to be valued, can’t be declared until everyone has a home.”

Ballots will be arriving in the mail any day now. Please help us spread the word about this critical measure and, please: VOTE! You can find out more at and pick up informational materials and signs at PCRI’s main office.

October 13, 2016 · Featured, PCRI

Travis Phillips, PCRI’s Director of Housing and Development, took to the airwaves Wednesday, October 12, to discuss PCRI, involuntary displacement, and homeownership on XRAY.FM’s “XRAY in the Morning” show.

IMG_8851Talking about gentrification and displacement, host Jefferson Smith noted that there is a risk of people growing numb to an ongoing challenge such as displacement due to residents no longer being able to afford their neighborhoods.

“Are people motivated to do things right now, to help your work?” Smith asked. “Do you have any risk of fatigue?”

“Sure we have a risk of fatigue,” Phillips responded. “What I think is really exciting right now is there is an attention to displacement and more importantly some solutions to displacement that are long overdue but ones we haven’t seen before,” referring to PCRI’s Pathway 1000 Initiative and “Right to Return” program that gives waiting list preference for some units to households involuntarily displaced from N/NE Portland.

The show continued, discussing homeownership opportunity for lower-income and first time buyers.

“For a lot of Portlanders, becoming a homeowner is akin to running an ever-quickening treadmill. You want to do it, but it’s getting faster and faster,” Smith said, wondering how PCRI works with home buyers to overcome the challenges of the current market.

Education, Phillips noted, is one of PCRI’s key strategies for home buying success. It is PCRI’s goal to ensure that buyers are well-prepared for their home purchase so they can maintain homeownership for the long term. On the show, one resource (Portland Housing Bureau’s Down Payment Assistance Loan) was discussed, but PCRI helps connect buyers with multiple resources that can be leveraged and combined to help ensure home buyers borrow from a bank only what they can afford.XRAYFM

For XRAY listeners and others who are interested in learning more about buying a home with PCRI’s assistance, PCRI offers a HUD-certified education program, one-on-one assistance and regular educational seminars. Visit our homeownership page for details or contact Homeownership Program Specialist Linda Tellis-Kennedy for more information.

Jump over to XRAY’s website to listen to the entire broadcast. Or find specific segments and archives from more than two weeks back by going to XRAY’s SoundCloud page.


October 11, 2016 · Awards, Featured, PCRI

IMG_8802At its October 4 Equal Opportunity dinner, the Urban League of Portland honored PCRI Executive Director Maxine Fitzpatrick with the 2016 Equal Opportunity Award.

“Maxine Fitzpatrick is a passionate leader in our community, working to ensure that all Oregonians have access to affordable housing and opportunities for home ownership,” the event’s program said. “As the Executive Director of Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI) for over 20 years, she has been a tireless advocate for families in our community and at the forefront in providing real solutions to Portland’s housing crisis.”

IMG_8788Nearly every speaker at the dinner praised Maxine’s dedication to the community. Urban League CEO Nkenge Harmon-Johnson recognized Maxine as a role model and mentor, while Senator Jeff Merkley gave honor to Maxine’s “decades of service.”IMG_8798

Brooks Staffing President Simone Brooks recognized Maxine’s perseverance in the face of challenges. “It is not an easy path you walk, Maxine,” she said.

Following Maxine’s acceptance of the award, Simone Brooks and Nkenge Harmon-Johnson presented Maxine with a painting of the City of Portland created by a local artist.

The annual event celebrates and supports the work of Urban League of Portland and others empowering African Americans and other Oregonians to achieve equality in education, employment and economic security.

PCRI’s staff and board attended the event to celebrate Maxine’s award as well as Urban League’s work in the community. More information about the Equal Opportunity Awards dinner can be found on the Urban League of Portland’s website.

October 7, 2016 · PCRI

homebuyer workshop flyer-Oct16For anyone who has applied for a credit card, a personal loan, or insurance: there’s a file about you. This file is known as your credit report. Credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to landlords, creditors, insurers, employers and other businesses with a legitimate need for it. They then use this information to evaluate your applications for a car or home loan, credit card, or even an apartment lease. Having a good credit report means it will be easier for you to get loans and access lower interest rates.

Join PCRI and Kriss Parnell, Senior Loan Consultant at HomeStreet Bank, for this seminar which will help you better understand what goes into a credit report, how it can impact you, and what you can do to improve your report.

When: Wednesday, October 26, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Where: PCRI Annex 6601 NE Martin Luther King Blvd., Portland, Oregon

Due to limited seating, PLEASE RSVP TO LINDA BY MONDAY, October 24 via email or at (503) 288-2923 x131

Interested in more information about PCRI’s homeownership programs? Learn more HERE. Additional classes will be offered each month; please check back for more information.

For more information contact Linda Tellis-Kennedy at (503) 288-2923 or by email. Click the photo at right for a downloadable flyer.

October 6, 2016 · Awards, Featured, PCRI

Oregon Business magazine has once again named PCRI as a top nonprofit to work for in the state of Oregon. We are honored to be among other exceptional nonprofits who work day-in and day-out to make Portland a better place while simultaneously striving to be great places to work. We are especially grateful for the recognition, as the rankings are based primarily on feedback from each organization’s employees.

The magazine’s annual 100 Best Nonprofits list is based on surveys of more than 5,000 participating employees from nonprofits throughout the state. The list is based on the Oregon Business’s widely regarded 100 Best Companies project.

“The nonprofit version was created to recognize a critical business sector that employs hundreds of thousands of workers,” according to the Oregon Business website.

Several staff members attended the 100 Best Nonprofits award dinner on September 29, 2016, enjoying a few moments in the spotlight at the reception and dinner.

FullSizeRender IMG_8657

Read more about the event and see the full list of rankings here.



September 29, 2016 · Featured, PCRI

Yes4HomesIn August and September 2016, PCRI welcomed two new staff members to our Programs and Resident Services team. Both Linda Tellis-Kennedy (pictured, far left) and Suzanne Veaudry Casaus (second from left) bring deep connections to North and Northeast Portland as well as a diverse background of experience. In their new roles, Linda and Suzanne will help ensure that PCRI residents and other participants in PCRI programs have essential tools to achieve stability and begin building assets through matched-savings accounts and homeownership.

Linda Tellis-Kennedy, Homeownership Program Specialist

Linda Tellis-Kennedy is a native of Portland, Oregon. She was raised in Northeast Portland on Alberta from birth until 1999. Her parents and grandparents were survivors of the Vanport Flood and were relocated to North Portland then displaced again for the construction of the Memorial Coliseum. Linda went to King Elementary School and was bussed to Binnsmead Middle School and finished high school at Thomas Jefferson. She has rented, owned and purchased investment properties in North and Northeast Portland prior to the current gentrification epidemic.  In 2004, Linda moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she became a licensed Real Estate Agent. She invested in homes again. However, when the market crashed in 2006-07, she had to return to corporate employment. Linda moved back to Portland in 2011 and worked as a Case Manager for the Oregon Department of Human Services in a specialized Self Sufficiency Department.

Working with PCRI to purchase her home, Linda is grateful for the time and dedication she received from the staff that assisted her with training, classes and resources which helped her purchase a home in the Urban Renewal Area. Linda is very excited about her work as Homeownership Program Specialist at PCRI.

“I am looking forward to all of the things I will learn and experience here at PCRI,” she said.

Linda believes in the work and the vision of PCRI and says she feels like she is going to explode when thinking about all of the positive things that will be accomplished in North and Northeast Portland through the efforts and work that PCRI is spearheading.

Suzanne Veaudry Casaus, Financial Education/IDA Specialist

Suzanne Veaudry Casaus has lived in Northeast Portland for 15 years and has seen her neighborhood dramatically change and many of her beloved neighbors displaced. Since first working on gentrification nearly 20 years ago in Atlanta, she has been searching for innovative and successful programs addressing this very complex reality.

“PCRI’s commitment to providing affordable stable housing, education, access to financial assistance and a path to homeownership is exciting,” she said, adding, “for me, being at PCRI is like joining a family, a family with a passion for community, history and helping people.”

Suzanne will lead PCRI’s financial education and matched-savings Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. Professionally Suzanne has a varied background working at the Oregon Environmental Council, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office and as an economics instructor at Chapman University. She has spent her career working as an advocate, organizer and educator striving to improve people’s lives in very practical ways.

“Working at PCRI is a dream come true.” said Suzanne.


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