Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
From Our E.D.
The Magnolia Welcomes New Residents
Summer Fun!
New Life for the Erickson and Fritz Buildings
National Night Out
Woodland Square Cleans Up

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Fall 2013

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson
I recently read an article about a photographer who specialized in backcountry wildlife shots and spent most of the last year traveling the West alone.  His photos are amazing, but the thing that struck me most about the story was that he thought he was an introvert who would enjoy a solitary, nomadic lifestyle.  Instead, he discovered that he craved company and wanted contact with people.  I think many of us travel through life under a similar misconception - we think we only need our family or a few good friends.  Our jobs and family obligations keep us busy and sometimes completely absorbed, and we may forget the importance of a larger community connection.  For some, being part of a congregation may fill that human need.  For others, routine participation in organized sports, PTA groups, or neighborhood associations may do the trick.  Even visiting a coffee shop or going to the gym regularly and seeing the same crowd every day creates a sense of belonging that satisfies the primal urge to be part of a larger group.


A lot of people lose this connection without even realizing it.  Routine and life circumstances often get in the way, gradually resulting in a lifestyle that does not involve participation in a larger community.  It can happen to any of us, but people experiencing poverty, personal hardship, housing instability, and trauma tend to isolate and experience this disconnect at even greater rates.  Because there isn't a measurable outcome that results from feeling like part of a group, "community building" efforts often seem fuzzy and less important than providing concrete resources to people.  But there is an undeniable, intangible good that comes from being part of something larger than one's self, from being validated as a member of a group, and feeling valued as part of a community.  I've caught glimpses of this phenomenon at odd and unexpected points in my life - strong emotions while taking part in a baptismal call and response, a feeling of power and belonging at a protest march, the embrace of a community coming together to celebrate a new futsal court.  I was not a part of these communities for more than a fleeting moment, but being present at the right time connected me to them in some way.


IHI staff spend considerable time and energy building community at our various properties.  Where they are most successful, the increased satisfaction of residents and management staff is apparent.  It even impacts the enthusiasm and resourcefulness of third party service providers.  People can feel a community and it feels good.  It isn't as easy to identify a lack of cohesion, but it can be felt as well.  Recently, IHI's Director of Housing Operations sensed a need to bring residents, community partners, and neighbors together near one of our sites and decided to replace our annual National Night Out party with a community-wide event at the local park.  IHI invited partners to join us and spread word throughout the community.  The day before the event, IHI staff had misgivings - what if no one comes?  What if we wasted our time and money?  What will we do with 500 hot dogs?  Then came the evening of August 7th - with balloons and banners hung, hot dogs on the grill, and face painters and balloon makers at the ready - and so did the people.  They streamed in and filled the park.  Singles and couples, families, children, adults, and seniors - people of every age and ethnicity.  Over 200 people came to share an evening with their neighbors and be a part of something bigger than themselves.  They played, ate, and talked.  They met new friends.  And they created community.


Moments like this provide valuable reminders about the importance of creating opportunities for people to connect.  IHI will continue community- building work at our properties and beyond.  And I will hope that I am lucky enough to be there when those magical community connections happen.

The Magnolia Welcomes New Residents


On September 17th, the doors will open and The Magnolia Apartments will welcome new residents.  This all-brick, LEED Certified apartment building brings 50 new, much anticipated, affordable apartment homes to the Eliot Neighborhood. 

The Magnolia offers affordable housing options to residents and former residents of this close-in Northeast Portland neighborhood that might otherwise be financially excluded as the area becomes a hot spot for development.  With rents for one-bedroom apartments across the street at $1,250/month, this area is quickly becoming inaccessible to lower-income households. To lease our new apartments, IHI utilized a grassroots, locally-focused marketing strategy.  We put up flyers in local businesses, at community centers, and in gathering places.  We reached out to community organizations and churches to let them know that affordable housing was coming on-line. We did not advertise in newspapers or on Craigslist.  In fact, most of our applications have come from people who drive by the building daily or live in the neighborhood and have watched The Magnolia rise from the ground, brick by brick. 

buildingGiven the current rental market, one- bedroom apartments at $499 and two-bedrooms at $598 are a great deal, especially near public transit, a block from Irving Park, and with amenities like granite countertops, walk-in closets, private balconies, and rooftop decks.  IHI and our development team of Carleton Hart Architects, Walsh Construction Co., and Faison Construction began working on this project in January 2011.  Almost three years later, we are proud to unveil light and spacious apartments with durable, high quality finishes that are still affordable to people who call Northeast Portland home.


If you or someone you know is interested in living at The Magnolia, please call (971)300-9944 for leasing information.  The building is filling up fast, but there are still apartments available. 


Stay tuned for an invitation to The Magnolia's Grand Opening, taking place later this Fall!

Summer Fun!

summerWe had a busy and healthy summer at IHI's four family  properties!  From June-August IHI served free lunches, coordinated arts, crafts, and physical activities on-site, and sponsored field trips.  summerWeekly themes such as planets, Olympic relays, and science experiments brought out the fun while also focusing on summer learning and staying active.  Children tie-dyed t-shirts, learned about the solar system, participated in nutrition classes, visited with animals brought by the Oregon Zoo ZAP team, and took part in nature scavenger hunts!   Field trips included the bowling alley, Oaks Park, and playing in downtown Portland's Salmon Springs Fountain.  For children, an active summer helps them stay healthy, keeps their minds focuse  d on learning, and creates a closer connection to their community.  It also sets them up for success at school.  Here's to a great summer and fantastic new school year!

summer  summer 

New Life for the Erickson and Fritz Buildings


The Erickson & Fritz Buildings moved two steps closer to restoration this summer, as IHI submitted a capital funding application to the State and began the process of securing historic tax credits for this exciting new project.  IHI requested federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) and a small Trust Fund grant from Oregon's Department of Housing and Community Services via a competitive statewide funding process.

If awarded, IHI will sell the LIHTC's to a for-profit investor and generate approximately $7.6 Million in equity.  We are also pursuing federal historic tax credits worth $2.1 Million from the National Park Service (NPS).  In order to be eligible for these credits, NPS has to agree that the buildings have historic value and approve our project design as historically appropriate.  IHI has submitted the first part of our application to NPS, making the case for historic value. 

Architectural rendering of a new interior courtyard in the Erickson Building.

Once that is approved, we will submit our building plans for NPS review. When all capital funding sources are assembled (hopefully by the end of 2013), we will get started on creating 62 new studio and one-bedroom homes in the heart of Old Town and downtown Portland! 
National Night Out


NNOOn August 7, 2013 Innovative Housing teamed up with the Jason Lee SUN School and Income Property Management to host a National Night Out party in the Madison South Neighborhood of Northeast Portland.  National Night Out (NNO) is an annual event celebrated across North America that aims to build local communities and reduce crime through strong relationships between neighbors. 


In the past, IHI has hosted NNO events at the Broadway Vantage Apartments, but this year we decided to turn it into a community-wide celebration a few blocks away at Hancock Park.  The event had a great turnout, with over 200 people spreading out blankets and setting up camp chairs to partake in grilled hot dogs, juice, and chips.  NNOFamilies and individuals of all ages mingled and met their neighbors.  IHI staff ran a very popular cake walk, people played badminton, and kids had fun with balloon animals and face painting.  Rosie's Room (our new on-site service partner at the Broadway Vantage Apartments) hosted a craft table where participants made puppets out of paper bags.  Policemen from the local precinct came and let kids (and dogs!) play on their motorcycles.  Overall, everyone had a great time and we were thrilled to celebrate National Night Out with the Madison South Neighborhood.     


IHI would like to thank Income Property Management for its great volunteer participation and donating a talented face painter from Glitter Ruby Face Painting, Rosie's Room for hosting the craft table, and Dylan Gelinas from Slightly Twisted Balloons for providing amazing balloon creations.  We look forward to another great party next year!


Woodland Square Cleans Up   
IHI has completed environmental remediation at the Woodland Square Mobile Home Park, removing two large underground gas tanks.  IHI has also demolished several hazardous mobile homes left behind by former residents.  The site is looking good and is environmentally cleaner than it has been in decades!   

albany tank removal
Innovative Housing Inc.                                                                    2011