July 27, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

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.

New Homeowner 002PCRI’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.

July 8, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

Rent Credit Build Postcard single Mom_Page_1PCRI residents are invited to improve their credit through paying rent online! Beginning Spring 2015, PCRI will accept rent payments through an Automated Clearing House (ACH), making it simple and easy to start building and improving your credit. Residents who have completed similar programs have seen credit scores improve an average of 23 points.

PCRI hosted information sessions in July for residents interested in the program. Residents who were not able to attend the information session are still encouraged to learn more by contacting Amy Dang via email or at 503-288-2923 x131.

For residents who are interested in the convenience of autopay, but are not interested in building credit, PCRI has an alternate payment option. Please contact us for more information.

June 12, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

150519 Arika Bunyoli Grad PicOn 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.”

150519 Terry Orr Reina Hernandez Grad PicIn addition to the valuable financial information, Banner Bank presented all completers of the class $100 cash.

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.

 

June 11, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

abnb8On 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 Announces 5th Annual Gala

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June 1, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

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.

Dancing with Stars Save the Date

 

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.

Residents Share Bounty of Fresh Fruits, Vegetables

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May 29, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

irenePark 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.

food processingProduce 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.boxxbox

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.

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Pathway 1000 Initiative Includes Focus on Homeownership

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May 28, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

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.

Pathway 1000_Page_2In 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.

Pathway 1000_Page_1The 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.

May 12, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is set to sign a bill recently passed by the state legislature that will provide an important tool for low-income families to maintain housing stability as they increase their incomes and move toward self-sufficiency.

Photo via Denis Theriault/The Oregonian

House Bill 3082, sponsored by Representative Lew Frederick, was overwhelmingly approved by the Oregon State House of Representatives on April 2, 2015. Senator Chip Shields sponsored the bill in the Oregon State Senate, where it passed easily on May 12. The bill, which will now go to Governor Kate Brown to sign into law, eases the “benefits cliff” faced by families as their incomes grow beyond 60% of Area Median Income (AMI), the maximum threshold to qualify for affordable housing property tax exemptions (approximately $44,000 for a family of four).

Under Oregon’s existing laws, when a family earns even one dollar over the 60% AMI limit, they are 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 would 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 form the flexible threshold which allows for increases in income over time.

The bill was supported by Oregon Opportunity Network 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 recent 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.”

The so-called “benefits cliff” refers to the sharp drop-off in benefits low-income families face as their income reaches a pre-determined threshold, such as the 60% AMI limit. Easing the “cliff” provides organizations like PCRI additional tools to help residents achieve self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty.

May 7, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · PCRI
PPS Class of 2025Through May 8, community members can participate in Portland Public Schools’ 2025 Survey. Through the survey, Portland Public Schools (PPS) hopes to gain community feedback about how best to accommodate the 5,000 new students anticipated to enroll in PPS in the next 10 years.

You can take the survey here or via paper copies in six languages available at all schools. Please share with friends, family and neighbors, even those without children in schools, so they may also share their views.

The results of the survey are vital to the District-wide Boundary Review Advisory Committee, a group of 26 community members tasked with shaping how PPS evaluates school boundaries. This survey will help ensure that every student can get a great education at schools in every neighborhood.

Additionally, PPS invites community members to provide more input  at a community workshop on school boundaries.  The workshop, hosted by the District-wide Boundary Review Advisory Committee, will be on May 16th from 9:30am – 1:00pm. Childcare and refreshments will be provided. Please register by emailing arodriguez@pps.net.

Financial Education Partnership Announced with Banner Bank

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April 15, 2015 · by Travis Phillips · Featured, PCRI

April is National Financial Literacy Month. PCRI is excited to celebrate with a Financial Education Program in partnership with Banner Bank. Residents who complete the four-class program will earn $100 to open a new checking account or use in other ways. The program includes four 2-hour classes on Tuesday evenings, starting Tuesday, April 28, and will cover topics ranging from budgeting, balancing a checkbook, managing credit and avoiding identity theft.

Classes are limited to 35 participants and pre-registration is required, so residents are encouraged to RSVP as soon as possible to Amy Dang at PCRI.  The classes include:

  • Love MoneyClass 1 (Tuesday, April 28, 6-8 p.m.): “Bank on It” and “Borrowing Basics” topics include basics of banking and borrowing.
  • Class 2 (Tuesday, May 5, 6-8 p.m.): “Check it Out” and “Money Matters” topics include backing vs. check cashing services, and budgeting.
  • Class 3 (Tuesday, May 12, 6-8 p.m.): “Pay Yourself First” and “Keep it Safe” topics include the importance of saving and protecting your identity
  • Class 4 (Tuesday, May 19, 6-8 p.m.): “To Your Credit” and “Charge it Right” topics include financial scams, identity theft, and maintaining good credit.

Participants who attend and complete all four classes will earn $100 from Banner Bank.  Class sizes are limited and registration is required.  Contact Amy Dang, PCRI’s Financial Education Specialist, for more information or to register.

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