Partner Resiliency – Generational Roots Planted in NE Portland
Rendering Courtesy of Proud Ground
by Keri Williams
Enterprise partner Proud Ground‘s next construction project will be the 5020 Condominium project, a unique homeownership opportunity for low-income residents in NE Portland. The project, however, is about much more than 64 new homes. This unique partnership between Proud Ground, a Community Land Trust, and Habitat for Humanity, will enable families with incomes ranging from 35 percent to 100 percent AMI to purchase condominiums that will re-establish roots in an area experiencing a rapid rate of displacement. It is a return home for many Portlanders whose families lived here years ago.
“Many of the NE neighborhoods were broken up decades ago, as a result of the construction of large projects such as hospitals and the Interstate I-5,” says Proud Ground Deputy Director Jackie Keogh. “We’ve been working with the African American Alliance for Homeownership to help some of these families return to NE and reestablish their roots through first time homeownership.”
In 2015, the Portland Housing Bureau established its North and Northeast Preference Policy, the first in the nation, which prioritizes homeownership opportunities for families who either currently live in the neighborhood, or who have generational ties to the area. Families affected by eminent domain are given first consideration. And opportunity is not all PHB provides— they assist applicants with research, working from childhood memories or collections of photos and other memorabilia and cross-referencing property titles to document a family’s presence in the neighborhood years or even decades ago. Proud Ground has also had a long lead time on the 5020 condominium project, time they’ve used not only to design the building and assemble financing, but also to ready potential buyers for their first mortgage.
Ground floor commercial space will be filled with an organization yet to be determined, but which will definitely have a community focus, such as a non-profit organization that provides a service for the entire neighborhood. The condominium association, made up of homeowners in the 5020 Project, will serve as a community voice to ensure that its needs will be prioritized.
Financing was complicated, in part because condominium structure in Oregon doesn’t lend itself easily to affordable homes. Laws that open up every party involved to suits up to ten years into the life of a project require costly insurance policies and make pricing out of reach for low- and middle- income families. The 24 market-rate units incorporated in the 5020 project will help subsidize these costs, and Proud Ground has a great assembly of partners including capacity building and subsidy from Enterprise, Meyer Memorial Trust, OHCS, Oregon Community Foundation, and Collins Foundation; construction loan from Heritage Bank, land and subsidy from Portland Housing Bureau, and investment from Metro’s transit-oriented development program. Said Keogh, "Enterprise Community Partners were the first to invest in Proud Ground's 5020 Condo Development. These funds provided a critical, catalytic investment during pre-development to bring the project to fruition."
And these homes will stay affordable for years to come— contracts between the homeowners and Proud Ground require that each subsequent transfer of ownership will preserve the affordability through generations, ensuring the roots planted now will strengthen the neighborhood far into the future. To some, it is a tangible result of years of patient advocacy— a physical representation that communities have a voice, and that voice can bring about change.