Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
From Our E.D.
Prioritizing Preservation: IHI Awarded $202,000 to Complete Critical Roof Replacement at Village Square Apartments
Innovative Expressions
Clifford Receives First Place at the DJC's TopProjects 2011
Let's Get Physical!
What Is Permaculture?
Golf for Housing
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Summer 2011

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

Take care of what you have.   This simple mantra has profound implications for us all in our personal, professional, and global roles.  I recall hearing it from my parents as a young child, and find myself repeating it over and over at home.  At work I use different terms to represent the same concept - asset management, sustainable practices, relationship building.  All are critical elements of Innovative Housing's business.  It is often easier to get excited about a shiny new project or innovative service program, but the key to long-term success is building slowly and protecting your assets by taking care of what you have.


In a very obvious application, this means IHI is focusing energy and attention on maintaining our properties, reducing their operating costs, assessing their capital needs, and planning ahead to address those needs.  IHI has been doing this type of asset management work for over 20 years, but in 2011 we are creating and implementing a comprehensive asset management plan designed to optimize our real estate operations.  As our portfolio grows and ages, it is becoming more and more important to approach this work in a proactive, holistic manner.  Not only will this ensure that valuable affordable housing remains available to households who need it, but it also generates cash flow to support IHI's mission.


In a slightly sexier spin on the concept, IHI is committing to green building strategies in both the design and construction of our housing developments.  We have a responsibility to take care of our planet by preserving natural resources and minimizing our impact on the environment.  It is fun to explore ways that we can do this in new projects by using active and passive solar energy, tapping geothermal heat sources, and integrating permaculture concepts (read more about this inside the fold).  We are also identifying improvements at existing properties to achieve energy and water efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions, and improve overall air quality.  Investing in technology and equipment that creates cost savings for IHI and our residents while protecting our environment makes a lot of sense.


Perhaps most important of all, IHI will continue prioritizing our relationships with the people and communities who support us.  During the last two years, as economic conditions posed tremendous challenges for real estate development, it became apparent that relationships were critical to IHI's ability to continue creating affordable homes.  We relied heavily on solid relationships with public funders, bankers, colleagues, and the construction industry to push our projects through to completion.  Taking care of those relationships in the good times - delivering projects on time and on budget, meeting reporting deadlines, and being a good partner - ensures that we have the support we need during bad times.  Today, as we move into a more predictable economic climate, IHI has an even greater appreciation for all of our development partners and each individual who takes an interest in our work, including family and friends who donate to support our mission.


Whether we are talking about a favorite toy, a home, the planet we all share, or a relationship with someone who supports our work and dreams, it is important to value what we have and appreciate how fortunate we are to have it.  Take care!

Prioritizing Preservation
IHI Awarded $202,000 to Complete Critical Roof Replacement at
Village Square Apartments


Innovative Housing's 2010 Strategic Plan calls for the preservation of valuable affordable housing at risk of being lost.  That means IHI will be actively seeking an expiring Section 8 project to acquire and preserve between now and 2013.  IHI's focus on preservation is not new.  Since 2006, IHI has acquired and preserved five "Year 15" Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties, ensuring that 311 affordable rental homes will stay accessible to low-income households.     


Year 15 refers to the end of the original 15-year compliance period for LIHTC properties, when the investor partner who has purchased the tax credits and provided equity for the project typically seeks to exit the partnership and the property must be sold.  All five of the developments IHI preserved are subject to extended use restrictions - some as long as 2044 - but that does not necessarily stop them from being attractive market-rate investments.  In two cases, IHI applied for and was awarded public funds to acquire and renovate the properties.  For another two sites, IHI did not feel that they needed substantial rehab at the time so we simply acquired  and continued operating them.  Our last acquisition of 40 townhome apartments, completed on June 1, 2011, was a mix - the 17-year old property is in need of repairs but did not receive funding from Washington County or the State, so IHI will be paying for targeted repairs out of our own operating reserves.   


village square

The Village Square Apartments

One of the properties we

chose to acquire in 2007 without rehab is The Village Square Apartments in Gresham.  As that property approaches its 20th year, it is showing its age and needs  exterior repairs.  IHI applied to the City of Gresham for funding and is very pleased to have been awarded $202,000 to make select capital improvements, including all new roofs, air quality upgrades, and repairs to stairwells and balconies.


Village Square provides affordable two and three-bedroom homes to 72 households, mostly large families.  The average income at Village Square in 2010 was just 33% of area median income, or $23,500 for a family of four.  New roofs and other repairs that extend the useful life of the property aren't just physical improvements.  They are investments in the lives of 72 families and valuable housing infrastructure that keeps parents and children in safe, quality homes they can afford. 


IHI is proud of our preservation efforts to date as well as our commitment to seek out and preserve additional housing over the next three years.  We look forward to keeping you posted on our progress.  

Innovative Expressions 

On Friday, June 3rd, elementary and middle-school children from Broadway Vantage Apartments unveiled their first art exhibit as a celebration of their participation in Innovative Expressions.  IHI offers this year-long empowerment program to strengthen young voices, using art and storytelling as a mode of self-expression.  Through the lens of a camera or the brush strokes of their latest self-portrait, youth share stories of family, school and community.



Divine showing off her artwork. 

Innovative Expressions is part of Innovative Futures, IHI's comprehensive family and youth service program.  IHI partners closely with parents, classroom teachers, school staff and community organizations to provide opportunities that increase the academic success and community engagement of

resident youth.  We provide a wealth of services directly to children, but we also focus on helping parents navigate the school system, service agencies, and other local organizations to strengthen their ability to advocate for their children. 


Fabiola taking a fabulous photograph of herself.


As part of Innovative Futures, IHI Resident Services staff volunteer at local schools, promote school activities, and attend school meetings with families.  They also run homework clubs and summer literacy programs, coordinate tutoring and mentoring opportunities, organize field trips, and connect kids with nearby fun and engaging activities, events and classes. 


Innovative Housing incorporates arts as a primary component of all our youth programs.  Research consistently shows that arts engagement results in increased academic success, improved critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, enhanced self-esteem, positive social skills, and emotional literacy.  And kids create beautiful art!

Olivier with his self portrait.
Clifford Receives First Place at the DJC's
TopProjects 2011

Innovative Housing's rehabilitation of The Clifford Apartments was selected as the First Place Winner in the $1-$5 Million Renovation category at the Daily Journal of Commerce's TopProjects 2011. 


Announced on May 26th, this award caps the successful completion of IHI's historic renovation of the 100-year-old Clifford Hotel.  The Clifford Apartments now provide low-barrier housing to 88 low-income individuals. 


IHI proudly shares this honor with Walsh Construction, Co., General Contractor; Carleton Hart Architecture PC, Architect; and Roggenkamp, Erickson, and Associates, Structural Engineer.  For more information about the DJC TopProjects Award or about The Clifford Apartments, please visit our website at:


Let's Get Physical! 


Innovative Housing is helping resident youth become more physically active. 

Miguel, an aspiring tennis superstar.

According to Michelle Obama's Let's Move Initiative, "Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese.  The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese."  The statistics are shocking.  Today's children may be the first generation to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents due to obesity and related diseases.


Unfortunately, these national statistics are even grimmer in low-income communities, with low-income children disproportionately facing negative health outcomes.  To help counter these trends among our residents, IHI's Healthy Generations Program targets multiple factors contributing to poor health and obesity in low-income families, including physical inactivity among children.  Only 1 in 4 low-income youth participate in any organized physical activity outside of school.  Children from poor families face many barriers to participating in extracurricular activities at school or enrolling in community classes, including cost and lack of transportation.


Elizabeth proudly modeling her track uniform. 

Thanks to generous support from The Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust and The Collins Foundation, IHI has been able to increase opportunities to engage in organized sports and athletic classes for over 100 youth this year.  IHI staff helped families find classes or activities and secure scholarships when available.  We also helped arrange for transportation and paid fees and equipment costs as necessary.  When a significant number of students expressed interest in martial arts, we worked with Dan Duvall of Within Arms Reach to arrange deeply discounted on-site classes at our largest family site. 

Alex with his completion certificate and instructor Dan.


This spring 15 youth at Village Square Apartments earned their yellow belts after completing a 12-week martial arts course.  The classes were so popular that Dan will offer a second round of classes at Village Square and begin teaching at Hewitt Place this summer.


By removing barriers to participation, IHI is helping our residents engage in team sports, learn new skills, and begin developing active lifestyles.  It's healthy and it's fun.  Let the games begin!

What is Permaculture?

Have you heard this buzzword?  It is gaining popularity and rubs shoulders with concepts like "sustainability," "participatory design," and "organic farming."  Permaculture actually incorporates these ideas and more.  It can most effectively be described as the nexus of green building design, inclusive decision making, and horticulture modeled on natural ecologies. 


Originally conceived in the farming communities of Austria and Australia in the 1960s and 1970s, permaculture began as farm imitating natural ecosystem to utilize more natural inputs, including waste products, and minimize cost, disease, chemicals and energy.  Over the last few decades, permaculture has expanded to consider how all areas of our built environment can make positive contributions rather than deprive us of light, air, greenspace, community interaction and natural resources.  Permaculture concepts challenge housing developers to ask ourselves: 

  • Could items we consider waste products be converted to cash?
  •  What if the things we used the most were located nearest to us?
  •  How would nature solve this problem?
  •  Could building elements perform more than one function?
  •  How do people become more connected instead of more isolated?

Permaculture encourages "out of the box" thinking about solutions to our common design and living problems.  One popular catch phrase in the movement is "impossibilities = limitless potential."  It is easy to think about rain water, gravity, hot sun and wind being enemies of buildings.  But what if they didn't have to be?  What if those same elements could work for us?  Not only through solar panels and rainwater recycling, but also by providing us with living system models for building design and human interaction.  What if a new apartment community could be designed by people who live in apartments and would like to see common living problems turned into solutions?


IHI is ready to delve into these questions, and we are excited about the creative process and innovative products that will unfold.  Watch for some of these new ideas as IHI's Eliot MLK project germinates over the next few months!

Golf for Housing!

The Walsh for Housing Golf Tournament is Tuesday, July 26th at Langdon Farms Golf Club.  Sponsorships are sold out (special thanks to Income Property Management, Interstate Roofing, and Coin Meter for their early sponsorships), but you can still play!  Proceeds from the event will benefit Innovative Housing, Central City Concern, REACH CDC and Northwest Housing Alternatives.  For more information about playing, please contact Jeff Patton at [email protected]. 

Innovative Housing Inc.                                                                    2011