Innovative Housing, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
From Our E.D.
IHI is Turning 30!
Breaking Ground in Albany
IHI Timeline
Bringing ESL Classes Home
Help IHI Earn Donations!
Healthcare and Housing

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Summer 2014

From IHI's Executive Director
Sarah J. Stevenson

A lot has been written about affordability lately.  Portland is struggling with a shortage of rental housing - the result is record low vacancy rates and double-digit rent increases.  This combination makes it difficult for everyone to find an apartment, but hits low-income households especially hard.  As demand outpaces supply, landlords can afford to tighten up screening criteria in ways that create huge obstacles for renters who may have glitches in their credit history, a bad rental experience, or brushes with the law.  They can also require that renters have high incomes and make large security deposits. 


As a landlord, I can appreciate that the current rental market is creating positive cash flow for IHI.  But as someone who cares about housing opportunities for low-income people, I am very concerned.  Three weeks ago I received a phone call from a single mother looking for a one-bedroom apartment.  Think for a moment about the logistics of a mother willing to sleep permanently in the living room so she can afford a single bedroom for her children.  Still, I could not find an her an available apartment anywhere in Portland for less than $750/month, which was more than she could pay.  Even within Portland's rent restricted "affordable" housing stock, rents are pushing beyond what is truly affordable for low-income people.  Combine this with the fact that almost no one is building family-sized apartments (the recent building boom is predominantly studio and one-bedroom units), and you have to wonder where low-income families are supposed to live.  Large units cost more to build and operate, so even mission-driven organizations like IHI are hard-pressed to develop them. 


I don't have a good solution to the increasingly complicated affordability dilemma, but I can pledge that IHI will do its best to create family-sized apartments at rents that are actually affordable.  My wish as we blow out the candles on IHI's 30th birthday cake will be that we succeed and that others join us in this endeavor.     

IHI is Celebrating 
30 Years of Service!


This August IHI is celebrating our 30th anniversary!  Founded by the Housing Authority of Portland in 1984, IHI was originally created to facilitate a lease-to-own program for eight low-income families in Northeast Portland.   In 1991 IHI completed its first multifamily development and we now own and operate more than 900 affordable housing units in the Portland metro area!  Although our size has changed, one thing has remained the same over the years - our commitment to finding innovative solutions to unmet housing needs in our community.


IHI is taking this anniversary year to celebrate all that we have accomplished since 1984.  In May we launched our "30 Stories Celebrating 30 Years" campaign.  From May 12th th
rough December 1
st we will publish one story each week highlighting past and present residents, staff, and community partners.  The stories will be a mix of print and film media and will be shared on our website, Facebook 

page, and YouTube video channel.  Please take a moment and check them out!  On the development side, we've included a timeline of IHI's housing development work in this newsletter.  You can find more information about our housing, including construction in progress photos, on our website.


While we are happy with what we have accomplished, looking back also reminds us of the reasons IHI was created and the extreme housing need that continues to exist today.  Just last month the National Alliance to End Homelessness released its State of Homelessness in America report - Oregon has one of the higher rates of homelessness in the nation and only three states surpass our rate of chronically homeless families in 2013.  IHI remains dedicated to creating more affordable housing - including family-sized homes - and to providing the support necessary for people to use their housing as a foundation for success in all aspects of their lives.  IHI's resident services are specifically designed to help residents maintain their housing, access opportunities, and break the cycle of poverty.  Last year we served over 1,200 people! 


All of us at IHI thank you for 30 years of support and look forward to our next 30 years of service! 


Breaking Ground in Albany


Albany City Manager Wes Hare, Central Albany Revitalization Area Advisory Board Member Rich Catlin, Willamette Neighborhood representative Larry Nelson, Innovative Housing Executive Director Sarah Stevenson, and Albany's Mayor Sharon Konopa broke ground at the former Woodland Square Trailer Park this month. Construction begins the fourth week of June and the first units will be complete in January, 2015.  The groundbreaking was attended by project partners, funders, development team members, and neighbors, all of whom are enthusiastic about the redevelopment of this site into 54 affordable 1, 2, 3, and 4-bedroom apartment homes for hardworking individuals and families. 

IHI's Development History! 


In honor of our 30th anniversary we have created a timeline depicting all of our projects over the last 30 years.  Click here to see it!

Bringing ESL Classes Home

At IHI's largest family site, 39% of our residents speak Spanish as their first language.  At their request, IHI began offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes this Spring.  Fortunately, IHI recently hired Marisa Monteverde, who came to IHI with over 10 years of experience teaching ESL classes in Washington, California, and Costa Rica so she was ready to hit the ground running. 


Before the class began, Marisa met with participants to discuss their goals for learning English.  Across the board, they all wanted to learn English so that they could help their children with homework.  Marisa uses hands-on activities and games that help teach English and keep it fun and interesting.  After only a couple of months, residents say they are better able to understand their children's homework and sometimes even assist them! 


ESL classes and the ability to speak English open many doors for IHI's residents.  Speaking English not only helps parents engage more fully in their children's education, but also drastically increases their earning potential.  A study by the U.S. Department of Education found that prior to participation in ESL classes, non-English speaking adults were eligible for entry-level positions.  After ESL classes, participants were eligible for jobs that included rigorous training and accordingly higher pay. 


In addition to teaching English, Marisa has taken the opportunity during ESL classes to speak with parents about important health topics like getting regular check-ups, conducting self-administered screenings, and making sure that children have a primary care provider and are going to well-child appointments. 

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 


A significant percentage of IHI's residents suffer from chronic diseases and other conditions that disproportionately affect people living in poverty, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  As part of our Healthcare & Housing Initiative, IHI will be offering a Chronic Diseases Self-Management Program at our properties.  Developed by Stanford University and sometimes referred to as Living Well with Chronic Conditions, this is a unique program because it is facilitated by people who are actually living with chronic conditions.  Over the next few months IHI staff and resident volunteers who have chronic 

conditions will be trained in the curriculum and will begin offering workshops at IHI housing sites.  Groups will meet weekly for 2 hours over the course of six weeks.  Classes are highly participatory and the success of the program is based on mutual support that increases participants' confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain fulfilling lives.


Many different subjects are covered in the workshops, including: 1) techniques to deal with frustration, fatigue, pain, and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance, 3) appropriate use of medications, 4) communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals, 5) nutrition, 6) decision making, and, 7) how to evaluate new treatments.

The Self-Management Program is designed to enhance regular treatment and disease-specific education, so will complement medical care.  It is especially helpful for people who have more than one chronic condition (many of IHI's residents have multiple diagnoses), as it helps people build the skills necessary to coordinate many different needs while managing their health and living active lives. 


To complement the Living Well workshops and encourage healthy lifestyles, IHI is also starting weekly walking groups at some of our sites, including Musolf Manor in Old Town.  The walking groups will be offered twice a week at different times to accommodate people's schedules and will be led by an IHI staff person.  Our goal is to increase physical activity in a safe and comfortable environment and to provide opportunities for positive social interaction.  Here's to living well! 

Innovative Housing Inc.                                                                    2011