Housing Update: A Potential New Path

Housing Update: A Potential New Path

In order to live into our decades long vision of building affordable housing at St. Philip, the Vestry has decided to explore additional opportunities.  We have approved an additional $20K (funded by the Board of Trustees grant we received) to ask Second Stories to explore the feasibility of a project with the following parameters (click here for their slide presentation):

  • A mix of affordable and market-rate usage, with a priority on maximizing affordable housing. A mix of affordable and market-rate encourages private equity, may speed development, and may provide a small amount of annual income for the parish.
  • Either rental or affordable home ownership/co-op is acceptable.
  • The removal of the current structure. This not only maximizes the space available for housing, it also solves the expense of fixing a building that needs extensive work (see below for more detail).
  • Inclusion of a (compacted) parish-controlled space: a combined sanctuary/parish hall, one lockable office, a meeting room (optional), sacristy, storage, and a kitchen. All church space should be able to be community usable (and church managed). Market-rate usage will cover costs of building/furnishing new space.
  • Commercial use is acceptable, with emphasis on space for non-profit, community-based organizations. We are specifically exploring the feasibility of including a Child Development space.
  • The acquisition and inclusion of 130 NE Knott (the neighboring house) if feasible, and acceptable to PCRI.

We will continue to work with Second Stories, our development consultant. They are successfully moving forward Kafoury Court ($22M project; partner: PCRI) which was awarded state funding, and has two other projects in development. We are confident in their ability to develop creative partnerships for affordable housing. If a feasible plan is developed, we can contract with Second Stories, or another consultant, to establish the development, management, and supportive services relationships, and submit a proposal for funding. The earliest a new round of funding will be announced is February, 2023.  The Homeownership NOFA was recently announced and is due in February 2023.  The rental NOFA will be announced in January and is due in March. We would like to be in a position to make a decision to submit a new proposal by these new deadlines. Any new proposal would render the current project obsolete.

Why are we exploring?

Shifted Requirements, Rising Cost

PCRI is committed to completing affordable housing at St. Philip, whether as our development and management partner, or cooperating with STPD as we seek a new development partner.

However, since the public announcement by Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) to award The Alcena $11.25M, much has changed. After almost five months of seeking confirmation, clarification, and submitting revised proposals to address PHB concerns with the original concept, PHB presented PCRI a revised list of requirements. We learned about this in September and have been in active conversation with PCRI. During this time, Gary Carroll has joined Revd Maria and Pat Dickerson in negotiating with PCRI; he will be taking the lead in all subsequent plans.

As a consequence, a significant amount of the pre-development work must be redone. This change costs both money and time. In the world of development, increased time & planning resources means increased costs. Overall, these required changes add at least $3-8M to the project. It also pushes the project farther down PCRI’s pipeline of projects. As a local, non-profit and culturally specific agency, PCRI does not have the liquid assets that many developers have been able to build over time. Shifts in timeline and finances have a significant impact on their capacity to build. Rather than wait and see, PCRI has given us permission to explore other options, while leaving our current relationship open.

The Roof over our Heads

In addition to the changes in The Alcena, our current building needs significant repairs and upgrades. The STPD roof has just been declared “cash value only” by our insurance agency. It will cost up to $100K to replace (fascia boards are rotten, wooden window sills and steeple decaying). Upgrading all our space (flexible sanctuary chairs, remodel kitchen for accessibility, fully ADA bathroom w/ shower, HVAC and air conditioning, better security) is estimated at $600K-$750K as of last year (likely higher now due to rising costs). Many local grantors do not fund the repair of church communities. We have applied for two national grants specific to African-American faith communities, and been denied. The only way we see to cover such significant costs is through mixed affordable/market rate housing.

Finally, while we have been able to open our building a few days a week for a hot drink and space for prayer. It is empty much of the time. Our building is usable for one-off events, but it is not laid out in a way that works for regular office space or childcare. The Vestry would like to consider shifting our space to a more “storefront” model, which is how St. Philip started. By incorporating a mixed-use worship and kitchen space in a new building, we can come alongside the community-oriented institutions that flank us: the Albina Library, and Matt Dishman Community Center. Reading groups can meet in our building over munchies, swim groups can cool-down over cards, and we can continue to provide space for a worshiping community, and our neighbors who need a moment of sacred silence. Our architecture will support the kind of mission we can sustain as a small community.