Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
From Our E.D.
Mixed Income Housing for Old Town
Tour the Historic Erickson and Fritz Buildings Before We Start!
Welcome to IHI's Newest Board Member
Strenthening IHI's Portfolio
Sharing the Harvest
One Step Closer
A Trip to the Zoo
Amazing Elephants

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Spring 2013

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson
Spring really sprang on me this year! Not only is this newsletter a little later than usual, but I was also shocked by the sun's full participation in spring break. I spent much of that week chasing water soaked kids around the yard and wrangling an astounding number of weeds out of my flower beds.


At work, our spring seems to have been consumed by annual reporting, audits, taxes, applications for tax exemptions, applications for project funding, and nitty gritty construction details. It reminded me that we spend much of our time, as nonprofit administrators and housing developers, with our heads in the weeds. We operate in a very paper and compliance-oriented universe - getting down in the dirt is necessary, but sometimes this endless bureaucracy causes us to lose focus on the big picture. The big picture is that housing matters. It matters to families and individuals, to employers and educators, to health care providers and governments. It matters because safe, stable housing is the foundation for success at work, at school, and in life. It matters because you cannot be healthy without shelter, you cannot get up in the morning and go to a job well-rested without a home, and you cannot focus on learning when you are struggling to survive.


I've spent the last 20 years believing that housing is one of our most basic, physical, human needs. Sometimes I forget that not everyone starts their day accepting this universal truth, and I actually find myself at a loss for words to explain why it makes no sense to talk about education reform, health care reform, prison reform, economic development, or anything else without first talking about housing. But, as an advocate and a believer, it is my responsibility to figure out a way to effectively deliver this message. Luckily, I am in good company and some influential groups have stepped up to help document the benefits that housing provides, beyond shelter. The MacArthur Foundation is in the midst of a five-year, $25 Million research initiative called"How Housing Matters to Families and Communities" to explore the idea of affordable housing as an essential "platform" that promotes a wide array of positive human outcomes in education, employment, and physical and mental health. Last month, the National NeighborWorks Association launched "Home Matters,"a national movement that aims to build public support for and link stable housing to individual success, education, health, public safety, and a strong national economy.

Because you are reading this newsletter, you are probably a believer as well. Housing matters. It matters to all of us, every single day. This spring, I'm committing to come up out of the weeds every once in a while to help spread that message. Please join me. The funding environment is stark at every level and competition for resources among worthy causes is fierce. Housing needs its advocates now, more than ever. Hopefully, if enough of us work together, we can cultivate an environment where everyone has access to safe, affordable housing. That's what matters. 
Mixed Income Housing
for Old Town

Innovative Housing is very pleased to announce that we will be bringing more mixed-income housing to the Old Town neighborhood!  Just steps away from the Modern Rich Apartments, which IHI completed in September 2012, the historic Erickson Building sits vacant, waiting to be transformed. IHI's vision for a vibrant, mixed income community in the heart of downtown Portland moved one step closer to reality this month when the Portland Housing Bureau awarded funding to develop 62 new units of housing on the site.

Erickson's Workingman's Club, also known as Erickson's Saloon, was a Portland landmark opened in the 1880's by August "Gus" Erickson. Taking up most of the block between Burnside/Couch and Second/Third Avenues, including the Fritz Building, Erickson's was legendary for its 684-foot bar and free smorgasbord lunches with a five cent beer. More recently, Portlanders may recognize the main canopied entrance on Second Avenue as the front door to Barracuda, an island-themed dance club.

IHI will be purchasing the Erickson Building, which faces Second Avenue, and the Fritz Building, which faces Third Avenue, from the Bill Naito Company. The two buildings join in the middle of the block and share building systems. Both buildings are vacant and their interiors are largely unfinished.
The historic Fritz Building 
This provides IHI a great opportunity to build "new" housing units with full seismic upgrades and all the amenities of modern construction while preserving the historic exteriors of these two buildings. IHI's development team and architects are planning a project similar in design to what we did at the Modern Rich Apartments - we will punch existing light wells through to the ground floor and daylight the atrium to create four interior courtyards. These courtyards have dual purposes. First, they provide outdoor space for residents, bring additional light into the interior portions of the buildings, and create access for first floor units. Second, they form concrete cores that run from foundation to roofline, seismically reinforcing the buildings.

The courtyards allow us to maximize limited building space and create 62 studio and one-bedroom units that will house people with a complete range of incomes. Most of the units will house working people who want to live near jobs and schools. With the influx of new employers and educational institutions in Old Town, there is significant pent up demand for housing in the neighborhood. A handful of the apartments will be affordable to people with very low incomes, and 10 units will have no income limits at all. IHI looks forward to creating a truly mixed-income development that will contribute to the revitalization of Old Town and provide affordable housing options for people of all income ranges who want to live in downtown Portland. 
Tour the Historic Erickson and Fritz
Buildings Before We Start!

Historic rehabs are exciting and fun to watch, especially if you have a chance to see the properties before construction begins. IHI is offering our friends a special opportunity to tour the Erickson and Fritz Buildings now, so you can see the "before" and "after" for yourselves. Tours will also include a look at the Modern Rich Apartments, to give you a sneak preview of the improvements we plan to make. Tour dates are: 


Thursday, April 25th at 4pm

Wednesday, May 8th at 4pm

Saturday, May 18th at noon

Wednesday, May 29th at noon


Tours are free but space is limited - please contact Katie at (503) 226-4368, x1, to reserve your spot!

Welcome to IHI's Newest Board Member

IHI is very pleased to welcome Richard
Fernández to our Board of Directors. Rick is a founding member of Bowles Fernández Law LLC and practices in the areas of foreclosure defense, real estate law, business law, and consumer defense.  Prior to founding Bowles Fernández, Rick was Vice President and Director of Acquisitions at Homestead Capital, Inc. and a Vice President of U.S. Bancorp CDC.  He is also a former board member and Vice Chair of the Housing Authority of Portland.  
Strengthening IHI's Portfolio 


In May, 2011 IHI was awarded a $50,000 grant from Oregon's Department of Housing and Community Services to increase our asset management capacity and develop an Asset Management Plan to maximize operations of our multifamily rental properties. On March 6, 2013 IHI's staff graduated from an 18-month Asset Management and Portfolio Preservation course presented by the Housing Development Center that covered all aspects of property assessment and performance. Using tools and skills acquired through this training course, IHI is developing an Asset Management Plan that focuses on creating operating efficiencies, maintaining high occupancy and rental income, and controlling expenses.


IHI owns and operates 870 affordable rental apartments in the Portland metropolitan region. This is a large enough portfolio that we are able to generate a significant amount of cash flow from our properties to support IHI's operations, provided the properties are performing well. 2012 was a good year for rental properties in the Portland region - across the board, occupancy and rents were high. IHI's portfolio reflected these trends - our average occupancy rate was 97% and all of our properties cash flowed in 2012.On the whole, IHI's portfolio is well positioned because we focus considerable efforts on structuring debt that our properties can afford. This means our properties tend to perform solidly in both up and down markets.


Because IHI is a mission driven organization and we house people who struggle to pay even the most affordable rents, we do not create cash flow simply by pushing up rents. We must balance modest rent increases with measures that minimize operating expenses, which is a challenge, especially in light of ever increasing utility rates. We must also be diligent about preventive maintenance and assessing our capital needs to minimize unexpected and costly repairs.


IHI places a very high priority on asset management because we know how important our housing is to the people who call it home. It is our duty to ensure that each property we operate is financially sustainable and physically sound - if those properties perform well enough to support our operations and help IHI create more affordable housing, that is even better!

Sharing the Harvest   
According to a food security report released by the USDA in 2012, 13.6% of Oregonians lack consistent access to adequate amounts of healthy food. The Oregon Food Bank reports that, in Multnomah County alone, 16,000 children are affected by not having enough to eat every month. Rising food prices coupled with cost of living expenses like transportation, housing, and utilities make it difficult for many households to find room in their budgets for three nutritious meals a day.


This is when organizations like IHI and the Oregon Food Bank step in. Since 2008, IHI has hosted the Oregon Food Bank's Harvest Share program at its family property in Troutdale. Harvest Share is as effective as it is simple: the Oregon Food Bank picks up donated fresh produce from food retailers and delivers it to specific locations where community members come to collect it free of charge. The program began as a way to supplement Summer Lunch programs in Milwaukie and has since expanded across the Portland area and takes place through all four seasons.


Harvest Share
Harvest Share distribution at Hewitt Place
Harvest Share is held at Hewitt Place Townhomes on the second Tuesday of every month from 8-11 am, with distribution starting at 9:30. It is open to the public as well as IHI residents, and we serve an average of 100 households from throughout the community each month. IHI staff members work with Hewitt Place resident volunteers to set up the event and distribute the produce among participants. IHI staff also coordinates a drop-off service for residents at Hewitt Place and another nearby family property who have transportation barriers or schedule conflicts that prevent them from attending during distribution times.


The selection of fresh fruit and vegetables changes seasonally, from kale and potatoes to peppers and strawberries, but Harvest Share's goal stays the same - to provide fresh food that families can use to make nutritious and hearty meals, three times a day. For information about volunteering or participating in this program, please contact Katie at (503) 226-4368, x1.

One Step Closer


IHI closed on the acquisition of the Woodland Square Mobile Home Park in February, moving one step closer to the development of new family apartments in Albany, Oregon. This vibrant city of 50,710 residents straddles Linn and Benton Counties and is in need of new housing affordable to working families.


Over the next several months, IHI will work with existing mobile home owners to relocate and clear the site for development. We will also apply to the State for tax credits and other funding that will complete our capital sources and allow us to begin construction.

Prior to IHI's acquisition of the site, the seller worked with IHI and City of Albany to demolish a vacant and unsafe house.

Once completed, the new Woodland Square Apartments will replace substandard mobile homes with 54 one, two, three, and four-bedroom homes for working families. Two-story, townhouse style apartments will sit above ground level flats, which will be accessible to people with mobility impairments. The project also includes restoration of the adjacent Periwinkle Creek Canyon habitat area, 93 parking spaces, covered bike storage, and a children's play structure. 

A Trip to the Zoo

To help celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, IHI staff accompanied young residents from the Broadway Vantage Apartments to the Oregon Zoo Community Day. The Zoo provided complimentary tickets and IHI chaperoned a group of 10 children, ages 4 to 14. They met Lily, the Zoo's new baby elephant, and saw tigers, zebras, bats, and many more animals! The kids had a fantastic time and the weather cooperated with a beautiful sunny day in January.  



Special trips like this help children make

memories that last for years to come!

Field trips are a favorite youth activity for many reasons. They give children a chance to participate in fun and constructive activities on days off from school and often involve outdoor physical activity. They also broaden horizons and provide experiences that many children don't otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy. IHI has taken groups to the beach, the Oregon Aquarium, the Children's Museum, Trail Blazer games, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and Zenger Farm. We also sponsor various recreational outings to swimming pools, movies, roller skating, and laser tag.


IHI is currently seeking an 8-12 passenger van so that we can increase the number of trips we are able to coordinate. Please let us know if you would like to donate a van or have experience/knowledge in purchasing one that you'd be willing to share!

Fully Framed

Construction is moving quickly on IHI's new housing development in Northeast Portland. It is fully framed and starting to look like home! 50 affordable apartments will be ready for new residents in September 2013.


mlk birds eye

Amazing Elephants


As part of our youth program, IHI's Resident Services staff coordinates a weekly art project at our family sites. The children look forward to it all week as a chance to get together, enjoy healthy snacks, and be creative. In February, they drew elephants and painted them with watercolors. The results were fantastic!

boy w elephant


One young boy had a difficult time following the step by step elephant drawing process, but his persistence paid off and he ended up with an excellent elephant (see photo)!


Innovative Housing incorporates art 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. 

Innovative Housing Inc.                                                                    ©2011