Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
From Our E.D.
Construction Kick-Off and FriendRaiser 2012
Bringing Good Health Home
IHI Goes to Washington, D.C. to Talk About Transit Oriented Development
Innovative Expressions Art Show
The Modern Rich Apartments
Thanks to Alder Geotechnical Services
Healthy Kids!

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Summer 2012

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

In 2005, IHI's Resident Services Coordinator asked for my permission to help someone who had been homeless for more than a decade. My first thought was, why ask? That's what IHI does. Well, it turns out this person wasn't an IHI resident. He was the boyfriend of a resident and had no home of his own. As is often the case when someone spends years on the street, he also had no identification or documentation that would enable him to secure housing.


IHI staff member Angie Harbin rarely lets technicalities get in her way. She didn't see someone who was beyond her purview. She saw a man who needed help - the kind of help she knew how to give. Being a wise woman, I usually say yes when Angie asks for something. Long story short, Angie spent many hours and days running around town with Bill to track down the documentation he needed and then helped him find his own apartment. For various reasons, he did not move into an IHI property. Still, he had safe, stable housing, which is a win in our book.


The story doesn't end there, however. Seven years later Merri Gonsalves, IHI's Benefits Specialist, asked her supervisor if she could begin working on a social security application for someone who wasn't an IHI resident. That supervisor was Angie Harbin, now IHI's Director of Resident Services, and the man in need of assistance was Bill. Needless to say, Angie's answer was yes.


Bill was still living in the apartment Angie helped him secure in 2005. IHI's team, including our current Resident Services Coordinator Kat Lentz, helped him get on the wait list for IHI housing and did everything they could to help him access benefits. In April, 2012, Bill moved into Musolf Manor and was awarded Social Security disability benefits. He now has a monthly income, access to healthcare, and stable, subsidized housing. That is a very big win!


What do I take from this story? Tremendous pride in IHI's team, who dedicated time and effort to helping someone they did not have to help - a man who wasn't reportable in their "measurable outcomes," who wasn't part of their already heavy caseloads, and to whom they could easily have said "I'm sorry" many years ago. It reminds me how long and hard a path it can be from the street to stable housing and financial security, and how many hands it takes to help someone along that path. And it gives me renewed hope that despite systemic obstacles and overwhelming need in our community, a small group of caring individuals can persevere and make a tremendous difference in someone's life.


This story also affirms that the people I work with are amazing, creative, committed, and compassionate. They give life to IHI's charitable mission by forcing it to adapt and expand in a way that keeps IHI dynamic and effective. Most importantly, these powerful role models remind me not to get wrapped up in and immobilized by bureaucracy, how important it is to remember why we do what we do, and to think twice whenever I find myself about to say "I'm sorry, I can't."

Construction Kick-Off and FriendRaiser 2012   


Innovative Housing is throwing a party to celebrate the start of our newest housing development in the Eliot Neighborhood of Northeast Portland! On Saturday, July 21, 2012, we will take over the vacant lot on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between NE Cook and Fargo Streets (soon to become 50 units of new affordable housing) and fill it with friends, neighbors, musicians, food vendors, and tons of fun construction activities for kids.


In addition to kicking off construction of this exciting new development, the event will be IHI's First Annual FriendRaiser. We are calling it a FriendRaiser because our goal is to meet new friends and neighbors in the Eliot Neighborhood, thank all of our existing friends for their support, and hopefully make new friends who share IHI's belief that everyone deserves a safe, affordable home.


Kids love diggers! 

Please join us from 12-3 pm on July 21st! Local favorites Dina y Los Rumberos will be performing live salsa music, there will be a big sand pit for digging, and Walsh Construction will have heavy construction equipment on site for kids to explore (creating great photo ops!). Vendors will be on hand with delicious food options, there will be arts and craft activities for children, and we'll be giving away balloons, popcorn, and more. It is free, family friendly, and open to all - please come and celebrate with us!

Bringing Good Health Home   


IHI works closely with many community partners to bring services to our housing sites. This spring we were happy to partner with Wawallacellace Medical Concern to offer on site medical screening as part of our Healthy Generations Program. Wallace Medical Concern brought its mobile medical van to IHI's largest family property, the Village Square Apartments, and conducted screenings for diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which disproportionately affect low-income people.


In early May, My Street Grocery (formerly called Fork in the Road) held a launch party at
Village Square to kick off its mobile grocery store. They had live music, face painting, cooking demonstrations, and offered groceries for sale. IHI appreciates our partners working with us to ensure that low-income families have access to preventive medical care and healthy food at affordable prices. Thank you! 
IHI Goes to Washington, D.C. to Talk About Transit Oriented Development 

Innovative Housing has always prioritized access to public transit when selecting sites for our affordable housing. As a result, most of our housing is located very close to major bus or MAX lines. "Location Efficient Housing," or Transit Oriented Development, helps ensure that those without a car can still access services. It also reduces auto dependence and the combined housing and transportation cost burden faced by many low-income households. While housing is the single largest budget item for most American households, transportation costs are a close second.  

whitmarsh pic
The Whitmarsh Building


In April, IHI was invited by the Enterprise Foundation to present information about IHI's Affordable Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects at a forum in Washington, D.C.  The half-day forum hosted by Enterprise also included presenters from San Francisco and Denver, each of which have special TOD low interest loan funds for the development of transit oriented affordable housing projects.  Portland does not have a similar fund for TOD projects and Enterprise wanted the forum's 60 attendees (DC area community leaders, policy makers, bankers, and foundations) to hear how this type of affordable housing is developed without dedicated TOD funding. IHI's Housing Development Director, Julie Garver, traveled to Washington, D.C. and presented detailed project overviews, budgets and incentives for several IHI projects developed near high capacity transit, including Broadway Vantage, Musolf Manor, The Clifford Apartments, and our newest project still under construction, The Modern Rich Apartments. 


IHI's presentation was very well received. Attendees were happy to hear that locating housing close to transit increases funder, lender and investor support and often makes projects more competitive for funding even though Portland does not have a dedicated TOD fund.  IHI's key takeaway points for policy makers and funders were that TOD incentive fund criteria should be clear and predictable, TOD project funds should be committed early to leverage other funds, and fund requirements should not be overly burdensome, since dense urban infill projects are already very complicated.   


From IHI's perspective, the best reason to develop housing convenient to public transportation (with or without dedicated funding) is the substantial benefit it creates for our most important stakeholders - our residents.

 Innovative Expressions
Art Show 

art show On May 25th family and friends gathered at Broadway Vantage Apartments to celebrate our resident artists. Each year, elementary and middle-school children unveil artwork that they have created through 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. It is part of Innovative Futures, IHI's comprehensive youth and family program. This year the artists exhibited pastels, collages, and mobiles - and great pride in their work, which is IHI's favorite piece.   

art show 2

The Modern Rich Apartments

On March 22, 2012 IHI closed on $1.8 Million of construction financing and began renovating the historic Rich Building in Old Town, Portland. IHI is combining

42 single room occupancy ("SRO") units on the second floor to create 26 studio
rich pic
Creating a new interior courtyard, 2012
apartments. We are also gutting and reconstructing the ground floor to create 8 additional studio apartments, a fully enclosed courtyard, and 4-5 reconfigured storefront spaces. This project will bring 34 workforce studio apartments and revitalized commercial space to the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood.

Originally built in the early 1900's as the Hotel Modern, the property passed through many hands and was renamed The Rich Building at some point.
old rich pic
The Hotel Modern, circa 1915
As an homage to the building's original name, the "new" apartments will be called the Modern Rich Apartments. Visit IHI's website for more photos and watch our construction in progress
Rich pic
Rendering of unit interior 









The Modern Rich Apartments will be complete in September 2012 and are preleasing now. A model unit is available for viewing by appointment. Email or call (503) 705-2682 for more information. IHI also has great storefront commercial space available, including a corner restaurant location. Call (503) 226-4368 x 6 for details!

Thanks to Alder Geotechnical Services 


IHI says a special thank you to John Cunningham and Alder Geotechnical Services for donating their services at The Rich Building. This project is on a very tight timeline and budget, so it came as an unpleasant surprise when the City asked for unexpected soil and boring analyses in order to get our permits. John Cunningham stepped right up and provided the necessary tests quickly to keep the project moving on schedule. Then he made our day by donating those services. John says he supports IHI because our work "makes Portland a nicer place for all people." Well, we think John and Alder Geotech are doing their part on that front as well. Thank you!


Healthy Kids

 What do you get when you mix healthy snack ideas, good ingredients, and hungry kids? The Hewitt Place Cooking Club! cookingThis group of young people gets together each week in the community kitchen to learn how to prepare and enjoy nutritious foods. Students learn about kitchen safety, basic cooking skills and techniques, and explore new foods and ingredients. 


What do you get when you mix growing bodies and minds with healthy snacks and nutritious meals?  Strong, smart, healthy kids who can do anything!   

Innovative Housing Inc.                                                                    2011