Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
From Our E.D.
Photos! IHI's Friends and Supporters Celebrate at The Erickson Saloon
Thank You 2014 FriendRaiser Donors!
The Magnolia Exceeds Equity Goals
IHI is Turning 30!
Healthcare and Housing
An Unconventional Family Success Story
IHI is Turning 30!

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Spring 2014

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

Change is constant and certain.  I have always been one to embrace change, and throughout my life have stirred things up just to see what happens.  There is something great and powerful about making your own change.  Where I have not been so quick to jump in, and where I still hesitate on the cusp of action, is when it comes to change that primarily affects others.  I have always been more comfortable in a role that creates opportunities and choices (this is how I view the provision of affordable housing, for example) rather than unilaterally altering the trajectory of another.  To give a very simple illustration, I am the kind of person who sees a dog running down the street and gets hung up (sometimes for quite a while) considering the various implications of my potential response.  Some of the things that go through my mind include:  Is the dog running away from home or toward home?  Is it running away from a bad home?  If I catch the dog and take it somewhere, might I actually prevent its owner from finding it?  If I don't catch it, it could be hit by a car.  What it if gets scared and bites a child?  In the end, I usually decide that, due to overall health and safety concerns, the best course of action is to try and catch the dog but by the time I get to that conclusion the dog is gone.  I should not admit that this has happened to me on more than one occasion. 


Ultimately it is a responsibility issue.  I don't want to be responsible for making a bad decision on someone, or something, else's behalf when I know I do not have a complete set of facts to fully inform that decision.  (I won't go into all the ways this complicates parenting.)  It is a mindset that can lead to inertia or result in prolonged data gathering rather than decisive action.  But if those extremes can be avoided and this instinct properly channeled, careful consideration of the potential consequences of one's actions can be quite beneficial. 


It gets complicated when change results not from a single decision, but from a series of decisions made one at a time by multiple parties, each conducting their own analysis but not fully considering their unintended, cumulative consequence.  In the right community, this is a recipe for gentrification and the loss of history, community, and place.  Too often we don't see gentrification for what it is until too late - but we should know better by now.  We know what "community revitalization" plans from the 1950's, 1970's, and even into this century have accomplished, both good and bad.  Urban planners, community development agencies, and local governments know the recipes for and the early signs of gentrification.  It is often labeled "progress" or "improvement" and then later blamed on "market forces" that cannot be controlled.  That, however, is simply not true.  Cities create the canvas on which development takes place - they make zoning decisions, regulate height and density, and offer incentives for select "public benefits."  In many cases they also actively engage in change-making, using public funds.  And they have the ability to put measures in place to protect and preserve the communities that are being changed by their policies.


Cities should invest in the revitalization of their neighborhoods.  They should also be a development partner to the communities they are changing.  Smart planners will embrace and respect the history and culture of individual neighborhoods.  They will allow people and businesses already residing in targeted areas to drive change rather than forcing them to react to the consequences of plans made by outsiders.  Perhaps most importantly, we must figure out a way to ensure that when the plan succeeds and the neighborhood is a better place to live and work, the people and businesses who were there first can afford to stay.

IHI's Friends and Supporters Celebrate at The Erickson Saloon




 See more photos on our Facebook page! 


Thanks to Our Generous 
2014 FriendRaiser Donors!



Special Thanks to the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing for donating 20 new coats to  our Eight Annual Coats for Kids Campaign!

The Magnolia Exceeds 
Equity Goals 


IHI set aspirational equity goals for The Magnolia back in 2012.  We weren't sure we'd be able to reach them, but IHI's Board had recently adopted our Equity Plan and we wanted to push our development team and ourselves to do things differently.  And we did!  IHI is proud to report that we exceeded our equity goals for both lease-up and development at The Magnolia Apartments. 


Opened in September 2013 and fully occupied by October 31st, The Magnolia created 50 new one and two-bedroom apartments in a neighborhood that has become unaffordable.  Close to downtown, great parks, and public transit options, the Eliot Neighborhood has seen rents rise and housing options for low-income households decrease dramatically over the last decade.  IHI knew it was important not only to create affordable homes in this desirable area, but also to ensure that our housing was accessible to people who have historically lived in the neighborhood.  Rather than exacerbate gentrification, we wanted The Magnolia to serve an anti-displacement function. 

 To accomplish this goal we reached out to community partners like The Urban League and focused our marketing efforts on local businesses and community centers.  We did not use traditional media outlets or Craigslist - we put signs on the building so people in the community would know we were leasing and most of our applications came from foot traffic.  The end result exceeded our resident demographic goals for the building - of 84 total residents, 48% are African American, 10% are Native, 7% are Hispanic, and 5% are Asian.  IHI also wanted to create retail space on the ground floor that would be affordable to a small, locally-owned business.  We were thrilled when Marcus Pack walked across the street to our pre-construction neighborhood party and said he wanted to open a barber shop in the building.  We've been working with Marcus ever since and Packasso's Barbershop will soon be a community hub!


On the development side, IHI committed that 30% of our construction subcontracts would be awarded to minority and women-owned businesses.  IHI and our co-general contractors, Walsh Construction Company and Faison Construction, kicked off the bidding process by reaching out to the minority subcontracting community.  We encouraged larger subs to pair up with small, minority-owned businesses that might not have the capacity to complete the full project but could benefit from participating in a portion of the work.  We were aiming for 30% participation and we achieved 35%!  That doesn't even include the general contracting work performed by Faison Construction, a minority-owned general contractor local to Northeast Portland.


IHI is very proud of our contractors and our leasing team.  We appreciate Walsh Construction, Faison Construction, and Income Property Management's partnership in these efforts and their commitment to furthering our equity goals.  Developing affordable housing isn't easy.  Neither is changing systems, procedures, and the status quo.  But The Magnolia demonstrates that when we work together and push ourselves, we can achieve great results!   

Help IHI Earn Donations!  

You can help Innovative Housing, Inc. earn donations just by shopping with your Fred Meyer Rewards Card!


Fred Meyer is donating $2.5 million per year to non-profits in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, based on where their customers tell them to give. Here's how the program works:

  • Sign up for the Community Rewards program by linking your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to Innovative Housing, Inc. at You can search for us by our name or by our non-profit number 86076.
  • Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping Innovative Housing, Inc. earn a donation!
  • You still earn your Rewards Points, Fuel Points, and Rebates, just as you do today.
  • If you do not have a Rewards Card, they are available at the Customer Service desk of any Fred Meyer store.
  • For more information, please visit  


Healthcare and Housing 


We are thrilled to announce that IHI has been awarded a $50,000 Health & Housing Capacity Building grant from Enterprise Community Partners.  Because IHI's Healthcare and Housing initiative is ongoing, we are creating a regular column to report developments and keep you updated about our work.  The Affordable Care Act opened up health coverage to many of our residents, changing the types of services we can provide.  Instead of helping people access limited free 

clinics or manage medical bills related to health emergencies, we can now focus on helping people take control of their physical health.  


We started by helping residents enroll for coverage.  Our next steps are working with residents to identify common health problems, developing health awareness programs, providing education about  managing chronic conditions, and promoting the importance of preventive screenings.  At our family properties we will focus on encouraging and facilitating prenatal healthcare and helping families schedule and attend annual well child exams.  At other properties, we are working with community partners to help residents strengthen their relationships with primary care providers rather than relying on costly emergency services (which was often the only reliable option for people without health insurance).  A lot of our work centers on helping people develop new habits around health care.  Giving someone access to medical insurance without helping them build positive relationships with doctors, for example, is not effective.   Because our residents know and trust IHI's resident services staff, we can help them access their new resources and change behaviors that will improve their health outcomes and achieve true health care reform.  

An Unconventional Family Success Story


Safe, stable housing is critical for everyone, but it is particularly important to children and has a direct correlation to their academic and social success.  When families are at risk of losing their housing, IHI does whatever it can to help. 


Shelly and her three children moved a lot and experienced several episodes of homelessness before moving into IHI's housing.  The family had many barriers to stability, but worked with resident services staff to maintain their housing.  Then, struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse addictions, Shelly was arrested on a minor charge and went to jail, leaving three teen-age children without a parent at home.  They had nowhere to go and no adults in the family who could pass the criminal screening criteria to take over their lease.  IHI staff knew they had to keep these children together and out of foster care.  After many meetings with family members, IHI identified an older sibling as a possible guardian.  At 20, Jared wasn't exactly ready to take on the responsibilities of guardianship, but he was willing to give it a try.  Resident Services worked closely with Jared for over a year to make sure the family's apartment was well-maintained, that they could meet their basic needs, and that the younger children were attending school.  IHI staff met with Jared regularly, helping him manage the resources and finances for his unexpected family.  This included understanding and navigating complex requirements of the many public agencies involved. 


Shelly has recently completed her sentence and a rehab program.  She is receiving quality mental health support and wants to come home, so IHI is now working to have Shelly reinstated as guardian and leaseholder.  Without IHI's assistance, this family's challenges could have been disastrous.  Instead, it was a challenging year for everyone, but the children are doing well at home and at school, and Jared learned that he had what it took to keep his family together.  A success story in our book!   

IHI is turning 30 this year!   

Starting in April, we will be posting 30 success stories to celebrate IHI's 30 years of service!  Watch for them on Facebook and IHI's website at 

Innovative Housing Inc.                                                                    2011