Our parish has nurtured a vision of an affordable housing ministry for some years. When Portland’s housing crisis erupted, homelessness came to our doorstep—literally—and the vision resurfaced. Starting in 2019, we began to explore how faith communities can justly steward their lands, with the help of the interfaith Leaven Community Land & Housing Coalition (LCLHC). In 2020, we testified before Portland City Council and successfully changed zoning laws. We established working relationships with Second Stories, a design and development firm focused on equitable housing in N/NE Portland, a development and management partner in Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives (PCRI) and service providers Urban League and Northwest Pilot Project. We supported Mtr. Maria in submitting funding grants. A 2020 5-year Diocesan grant to support staffing and community engagement encouraged us to continue to dream big. We even named our vision, The Alcena—An Affordable Living Community. Now we’re awaiting July results of our first city and county grant applications, the start of many applications to come as PCRI and Second Stories work hard to creatively build our total funding “stack.” To learn more about this evolving ministry over the last 18 months check out our website. And watch this space for updates and ways to get involved!
This parish has embarked on a truly significant effort on many levels — turning a dream into reality, faith into action. The different components (to date) of the development schedule reflect this, from internal parish discussions, Leaven Community activism, to the leap of hiring the development team Second Stories, to formal applications for housing financing. All this has taken about a year and a half, with the first six months of 2021 being the most consequential. During this brief period, some salient achievements include:
- St. Philip determined the need to provide affordable housing to vulnerable senior members of our community.
- A partnership has been forged with co-developer Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, service providers Urban League and Northwest Pilot Project have been brought on board.
- Negotiated option to purchase djacent property, 130 Knott, pending funding.
- Parish members of the Leaven Community Land and housing team begin to engage in one-to-one conversations with neighbors and neighborhood organizations in order to engage the community in visioning for the future.
- Preliminary drawings for the Alcena completed; preliminary cost estimates provided with input from Colas Construction.
- LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit) funding application submitted to Oregon Housing and Community Services.
All of the above have been necessary first steps, tied together. We hope to have favorable news about the LIHTC application by the end of July! If granted, this funding source will become part of the “layer cake” of funds needed for construction — more about that, and the rest of the development schedule later!
— SPTD Housing Ministry Communications Team