Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
From Our E.D.
Mentoring for Success
A Trip to the Children's Museum
A Year in the Life of IHI's Development Pipeline
A New Resource for Spanish Speakers in Gresham
The Insider's Corner

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kid painting 

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Spring 2012

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

There is something so rejuvenating about a crisp sunny day in the middle of winter! It is that first taste of spring that signals a fresh start, inspires us to pull out bikes and balls and head to the park, and makes even the most frenzied of us pause for just a moment to close our eyes, feel the sun on our faces, and breathe deeply. Yesterday was one of those days and it reminded me how important new beginnings can be.


IHI is in the business of fresh starts. We are dedicated to creating safe, affordable homes that families and individuals can use as the foundation for success in all realms of their lives. IHI's resident services staff ensure that people's basic needs are met and provide support for residents to grow and thrive. We help people secure and increase their incomes, improve their academic performance, connect with their communities, develop healthier lifestyles, and access resources to solve problems and seize opportunities.


This means families can start down a new path toward household and financial stability. When Irene needed assistance breaking a cycle of payday loan debt that was threatening her family's housing, IHI staff helped her access emergency food and utility assistance, provided rent assistance, and worked with her for months to manage her money and stabilize her finances. Now this hardworking, single, mother of three has the hope and tools she needs to plan for her family's future.


Individuals who struggle with addiction can make a clean start. Kayla came to IHI housing with a history of crack cocaine and alcohol abuse, including a DUII. She has since entered a treatment program and is now in recovery and the primary caregiver for her ill mother. Don has a long history of substance abuse that lead to trouble with the law. Stable housing gave him the opportunity to start over, stay clean, and he now focuses his energy on creating beautiful artwork.


Families with histories of violence and pain can start anew and create a positive future for themselves. Yadira moved to America with her five children after spending seven years in a Burundi refugee camp. Shortly after coming to America, she found herself homeless due to domestic violence. Fortunately, the family was able to access subsidized housing with IHI through a Multnomah County program. IHI staff worked closely with Yadira and her children to help them access community resources, fully engage and succeed at school, and manage their household budget. IHI has even provided translation services to enable Yadira to participate in parent/teacher conferences and school orientations while she learns English. The family is now thriving at home and at school!


IHI also gives old buildings new beginnings. While we sometimes build from scratch, one of IHI's strengths is renovating existing buildings that have deteriorated and need repair. Re-purposing or restoring a structure to create homes is challenging, but also can be more economical than new construction and typically is more sustainable because we are recycling a building that already exists. Old buildings have history to share and it seems right to preserve them for new residents to create their own stories. This is what we are doing at The Rich Building in Portland's Old Town Neighborhood - construction starts this month and should be complete in September! Keep an eye on our website for updates and photos of this work in progress, and please join us for tours when the work is complete.


As Spring unfolds and we get more of those beautiful sunny days, I hope you take a moment to celebrate new beginnings. Let that crazy spring feeling energize you to start something you've been putting off or try something totally new and exciting. IHI will continue doing everything we can to help families and individuals use their housing as a springboard for success and a safe place to make a fresh start.


Mentoring for Success   


A college education is one of the best ways to break out of poverty. A degree opens doors, increases upward mobility, and is almost guaranteed to increase earning potential. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, over the course of their lives, workers with a college degree earn more than twice as much as workers who dropped out of high school and almost a million dollars more than those with a high school diploma. For women, a college degree makes an even bigger difference: women who graduate from college earn 76 percent more than women with only a high school diploma.


Three students on a tour at the University of Oregon

Unfortunately, children from low-income families are much less likely than their peers to obtain a college degree. Over the last 30 years, disparities in educational achievement based on socioeconomic status, including the gap in college graduation rates, have increased dramatically. IHI recognizes the importance of a college degree and is familiar with the obstacles facing many low-income youth in their pursuit of higher education. To help, we offer a Mentor Program for high school students that focuses on exploring options, accessing opportunities, and making decisions that position young people for future success.


IHI's Mentor Program is fully integrated with our broader youth and family services. As young people move into high school, IHI helps them think about their next steps, which include developing job readiness skills and talking about college.  

IHI staff members meet with resident youth individually and in group settings, so they benefit from one-on-one coaching as well as peer support as they prepare to face new challenges. Every month the Mentor group focuses on a new topic such as creating resumes, preparing for job interviews, applying for college scholarships, and completing admission applications. For many high school students, this is the first time they have talked about going to college.  


To help make the idea of going away to school more manageable, IHI staff members take students on college tours throughout the state, including Portland State, Western Oregon State, Oregon State, and the University of Oregon. Seeing a school in person, in the company of peers and adults they know and trust, helps create a comfort zone for youth who may be the first in their families to consider college. For those who decide to apply, IHI staff is available to help at every step along the way, from securing applications to researching scholarships and applying for financial aid.


We are happy to report that students we have worked with since middle school are now matriculated at Portland State University, Oregon State University, and Western Oregon State. Many of these first generation college students are also the recipients of competitive scholarships. IHI is proud to support our young residents as they take a very exciting, and scary, step toward adulthood and build a strong foundation for their future success.

A Trip to the Children's Museum  
The Portland Children's Museum ("PCM") has been a great partner to IHI over the years. The relationship started with IHI's participation in Bread and Art, a PCM extension program that brought art programs to community sites, including one of IHI's family properties. This summer, PCM staff visited all four of IHI's family properties to teach watercolor classes. As part of PCM's Community Partners Program, IHI residents are eligible for very reduced cost family memberships and IHI can bring up to 50 people to the museum on Thursday evenings for free. Here are some photos of our most recent outing to this amazing kidspace!   


                    kids at PCM in frame

PCM gives children opportunities to role play, perform, create, and study their physical environments.  
       girl with medical equipment     kid at PCM playing with gears
               one kid PCM


A Year in the Life of IHI's Development Pipeline 

June 2011
: IHI acquires Kinnaman Townhomes, preserving
40 affordable family apartments in Washington County
kinnaman playground
Kinnaman residents enjoying the new play structure 

July through October 2011:
  IHI completes exterior renovations at Kinnaman Townhomes, including siding replacement, new roofs, paint, and installation of a new play structure

September 2011:  The State awards $8 Million of grants and tax credits to complete capital funding for IHI's Eliot Neighborhood housing project  
The Rich Building

October 2011:
IHI acquires The Rich Building in Portland's Old Town to redevelop into
34 studio apartments, a project IHI will complete without public funds

Rendering of new Albany housing

November 2011:  IHI is awarded $1.45M by the Central Albany Revitalization Agency to redevelop a trailer park into 54 affordable family apartments

March 2012:
  IHI begins construction at The Rich
village square
Village Square Apartments

June 2012:
  IHI will begin exterior renovations at Village Square, IHI's largest family complex with
72 affordable family apartments, funded in part by City of Gresham HOME funds  

July 2012:
  IHI will begin construction of
50 studio, one, and two-bedroom apartments in the Eliot neighborhood of NE Portland
Eliot MLK rendering
Rendering of new Eliot neighborhood housing 
A New Resource for Spanish Speakers in Gresham 


Innovative Housing is co-sponsoring a Spanish language workshop series with the East Gresham Grade School's SUN Program. IHI works closely with local schools to operate our comprehensive youth program, Innovative Futures. We connect with teachers and administrators to support students and help parents become more active in their children's education. We also bring resources to overburdened schools. Sometimes IHI staff members volunteer at the school, provide homework help, or start an after-school activity like a soccer club that would not otherwise exist. IHI's engagement with the school depends on teacher/administrator input, community need, available resources, and resident feedback. Our primary goals are to increase opportunities for resident youth, help them improve their academic performance, and support parental involvement in their children's education, but we also strive to create benefits for the broader community.


woman at workshop
Workshop participants review
tax documents.

This new workshop series for Spanish speaking adults, organized by IHI and the East Gresham Grade School's ("EGGS") SUN Program, is an example of a great new collaboration that will benefit the public and IHI residents. The first six week series of workshops is designed to provide useful tools to help Spanish speakers access community resources and job related opportunities. Topics include: Tax Preparation, Becoming a State Certified Child Care Provider, First Aid/CPR, Nutrition Education & Getting Your Food Handlers Certificate, Adult Basic Education, and Understanding Benefits and Community Resources. This workshop series was organized by IHI and the EGGS SUN Program, but also involves many community partners - workshops will be presented by El Programa Hispano, OSU Extension Services, Mt. Hood Community College's Plaza Comunitaria Program, the Red Cross, and Multnomah County's Department of Human Services.


Half of the workshops will be offered at the grade school during the day and half will be offered at IHI's largest family property, Village Square Apartments, during evening hours. Snacks and meals will be served and childcare will be provided for evening sessions. All participants who complete the entire series are eligible for a special incentive and certificate of completion, and the workshop series will end with a graduation dinner for all participants and their families.


This series started in February and runs through March-so far it has been very well received. IHI and the EGGS SUN Program hope to collaborate again for a second Spanish language series of workshops available in late spring that will cover additional topics of interest such as Summer Programs for Youth, Library Classes and Resources, Financial Education, Parenting Groups, and Immigration Resources. IHI thanks all of our partners for coming together to create such a great educational opportunity for the Spanish speaking community in East Gresham!


Insider's Corner: 
Where every so often you will find information about a current development topic 

Ever heard of graywater? Graywater is any household wastewater with the exception of wastewater from toilets, which is known as blackwater. Typically, 50-80% of household wastewater is graywater from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, bathroom sinks, tubs and showers. In an effort to reduce water usage and expense at our new Eliot Neighborhood housing development, IHI is exploring a graywater recovery system, which for us would mean capturing used shower water, filtering it, and reusing it to flush toilets. We are weighing this option against a rainwater recovery system, which would capture rainwater to be used for toilets. The graywater option would probably have greater cost savings on water/sewer bills, but may also have higher maintenance costs. It is a less common method of conserving water so the systems simply haven't been as tried and tested. Both options require a large storage tank and filtration system, but graywater needs more filtering than rainwater.


We will be submetering water and sewer at this site, so individual residents will be paying for their own water. Nonetheless, IHI is looking for ways to help residents conserve water and save money. We hope to include solar panels that will provide enough power to heat all of the hot water for the building, further reducing energy usage and costs to residents. We will keep you posted on the graywater-vs-rainwater recovery systems!


Innovative Housing Inc.                                                                    2011