Jessy Olson
Farmworker Housing Development Corporation


“For farmworkers and their families in Oregon—and throughout the United States—thoughtfully designed housing can act as a vehicle for integration into a new community, economic stability and education for both children and adults. Housing is the most critical need for this very low-income population, and this fact should only emphasize the role that design plays in the development of projects that address such a basic need. It is not only the provision of shelter, but the foundation for a sense of identity and social connectedness that creates a strong and sustainable community.”

After completing her Enterprise Rose Fellowship in 2010, Jessy Olson is thrilled to be part of a growing network of conscientious and responsible designers and developers who are advocates for sustainable communities on all levels. Jessy particularly values design that integrates a community’s needs with the environmental, cultural and economic conditions, and is working to better understand the particular needs of the farmworker community in Oregon.

A graduate of the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Architecture, the recipient of a Walter G. Brown Student Grant for study in Nagoya, Japan, and a recognized recently as an Emerging Leader by the Design Futures Council, Jessy has assembled her academic and professional experiences from across the fields of sustainable design and development. She has been involved with the design and implementation of projects in both rural and urban environments, from green custom homes in the Northwest and prefabricated shelters in Tokyo, to LEED certified, mixed-use, high-rise developments in downtown Portland, and farmworker communities throughout the state.

Jessy’s host, the Farmworker Housing Development Corporation (FHDC), worked on building its in-house development capacity throughout her Fellowship tenure, and Jessy continues to be a valuable addition as a Development Project Manager at FHDC. She has taken the lead on the design and development of a new 40-unit, farmworker housing community in Woodburn, Ore., and is managing the rehabilitation of 90 existing units in surrounding rural towns.

Her work also keeps her in close contact with the Portland Enterprise office, which offers investment partnerships as well as mentoring and development guidance. Jessy looks forward to working on larger rural housing research and policy efforts, in collaboration with Enterprise and other rural Rose Fellows. In the past few years Jessy expanded her work as a Rose Fellow to include guest teaching positions, at both the University of Oregon and the Lewis and Clark Law School, and has been presenting on topics related to green rehabs and financing at several national conferences.

jolson-nuevo-amanecer.jpgNuevo Amanecer, Phase I and II Rehab

10 acres gross site area
2 stories
10 acres gross project area
90 affordable rental housing units
3 common residential amenity rooms (2,450 sq ft)
36 common courtyards/terraces (7,200 sq ft)

Residential Unit Profile:
Although Nuevo Amanecer is thriving as a community, and its residents are exceeding expectations in terms of economic stability and education, this project was not built to adequate standards of construction. Due to original construction and design defects, both phases needed significant capital improvements to continue providing quality housing. In order to mitigate an increasing health risk to the residents and rising repair costs, FHDC prioritized the rehabilitation of this property before moving forward with other new construction projects in 2007.

Jessy coordinated the sustainability efforts for the projects, and worked on securing an Enterprise Green Communities grant in order to fund a more efficient rehab. As the newest member of the development team, she used this project to gain experience in the arena of low-income housing preservation and rehab, and was excited to be a part of the transformation of such an historically significant project.

jolson-colonia-libertad-reno.jpgColonia Libertad Renovation

4 acres gross site area
2 and 3 stories
48 affordable rental housing units
2 common residential amenity rooms (3,000 sq ft)
2 common courtyards 1,500 sq ft)

Residential Unit Profile:
After learning quite a bit about water intrusion issues and the necessity of timely rehabs at Nuevo Amanecer, Jessy was prepared to tackle the rehab of another project in FHDC’s portfolio which needed similar upgrades. Colonia Libertad, a thriving 48-unit farmworker community outside of Salem, Oregon, was suffering from construction defects that were leading to worsening building conditions and damages.


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