Breaking Ground – 18th Street Development

On October 11, Community Action Team, Inc. (CAT) in St. Helens hosted a gathering of local and state officials, planners, project funders, building professionals, and interested citizens to celebrate the ground breaking of the new 18th Street Development, a 16-unit multifamily affordable housing complex.

This long-awaited and now imminent housing solution will take shape on a small tract of land along 18th Street between Columbia Blvd. and St. Helens Street in St. Helens.

Margaret Salazar, Director, Oregon Housing and Community Services; Senator Betsy Johnson; Joanne Sheehy, Oregon Housing and Community Services; Dan Brown, Executive Director, Community Action Team, Inc.; Nina Reed, President, Self-Help, Inc.

Owned and donated to the project by Columbia County Self-Help, Inc., the property is set to emerge as the address of sixteen 400-square-foot units, each tagged at a little over $100,000 for a total project cost of $1.633 million.

Self-Help, Inc. President, Nina Reed says that, while small in size, this number of available units will chip away at a big problem in Columbia County.

CAT Executive Director Dan Brown’s pointed remarks from the podium summed up the area’s present condition. “A recently completed housing study identified only 1,200 units of low-income affordable housing in Columbia County. The same study documented the current demand for an additional 1,900. That’s 1,900 more units required TODAY just to respond to the immediate needs of our most vulnerable population. That’s 160% more affordable units than are available right now in Columbia County.”

In 2016, former CAT director, Jim Tierney, submitted the funding application for 18th Street Development to Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). Once on the drawing board, the collaborative efforts of key local and state individuals and entities advanced the project through the planning stages to its now near launch. A special thanks goes to HomeFirst Development (Fairview, OR), whose vision is to help mission-driven organizations build quality, affordable housing.

Rich & Ellen Bailey, Rich Bailey Construction; Robert Justus, Principal, HomeFirst Development; Ben Pray, Principal, HomeFirst Development; Tony Jones, Project Manager, HomeFirst Development; & Doug Circosta, Architect, HomeFirst Development.

The first deposit in CAT’s 18th Street Development kitty came from Oregon Housing and Community Services’ LIFT fund (Local Innovation and Fast Track) in the amount of $608,000. A year later, Wauna Credit Union came through with a lending finance package that added $675,000 to the purse. Unfortunately, construction costs rose by $350,000 during that waiting period. Thanks to eleventh-hour intervention by State Senator Betsy Johnson and OHCS Director, Margaret Salazar, a grant from OHCS’s Mental Health Housing Fund came through to make up the difference.

The development is slated to be completed by June 2019, and fully occupied by August 2019.

Submitted by:
Community Action Team

Weatherization Day at the Capitol

We celebrated Weatherization Day, and were joined by James LaBar from the Governor’s Office.  Randy Olson, Jessi Adams and Rogelio Cortes, represented the Community Action network’s weatherization and energy programs by educating Housing Stability Council members on how weatherizing homes improves the health and safety of families, reduces energy bills and preserves affordable housing stock.

Thank you Community Action for your hard work and commitment to improving the lives of low-income families in Oregon.

From left to right: Kurt Pugh, OHCS, Jessi Adams, CAO, Rogelio Cortes, Mid-Willamette, Randy Olson, CAO, Janet Merrell, CAPO, Dan Elliott, OHCS, James LaBar, Governor’s Office, Michael Figueredo, OHCS, Anna Geller, Housing Stability Councilperson, Sarah Mentzer, OHCS, Val Valfre, Chair, Housing Stability Council, Mary Li, Housing Stability Councilperson, Zee Koza, Housing Stability Councilperson, Claire Seguin, Deputy Director, Housing Stabilization, OHCS, Margaret Salazar, Director, OHCS

NeighborImpact launches the Principal Reduction Program for low income homeowners

CAPO member organization, NeighborImpact, is promoting a new program for low income folks in the central part of our state. The program, known as the Principal Reduction Program, helps low-income households by lowering their mortgage payments through a combination of principal reduction and refinancing. For eligible families, the program will pay down the principal of their mortgage by up to $50,000, which reduces their monthly payment making it more affordable to stay in their homes.

The program serves veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities on fixed incomes of no more than 125% of state median income. News channel 21 in Bend did a story profiling the first family to be helped by the PRP.

Applications for the PRP may be submitted through the Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI) website.

NeighborImpact’s HomeSource also runs an array of other homeowner assistance services in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, including financial and energy conservation workshops, homeowner coaching, weatherization grants, and more. Visit their website for more information.

Construction Begins on UCAN’s New Roseburg Head Start Building

In late July, ground was broken for a new UCAN Head Start Center that will serve children from throughout Douglas County. The 11,800 square-foot facility will feature seven classrooms, a family service room, a health screening room, and a natural play area. The building will be located adjacent to UCAN’s primary Douglas County service center and will be serviced by UCAN’s own fleet of UTrans buses. The location and access by public transit will make it much easier for families of young children and pregnant women served in Early Head Start/Head Start to obtain wrap-around services best meeting their needs. Up to 280 children can receive services on any given day at the new Center.

UCAN began raising funds for the Center in 2015. After The Ford Family Foundation generously offered to match local donations 3:1 for an amount of up to $1.25 million dollars, community donors and local foundations came together to provide more than the amount needed to raise Ford’s maximum grant amount. The Meyer Memorial Trust and The Collins Foundation provided additional, substantial grant funding. The City of Roseburg successfully obtained $1.5 million in CDBG funds from Oregon’s Infrastructure Finance Authority on behalf of the project and is working closely with UCAN to support development of the Center.

For decades, UCAN has had to move its classrooms from one leased location to another, each time causing great disruption to families and staff. Moves have been expensive, costing anywhere between $50,000 to $150,000. The new Center, which should be completed in Spring of 2019, will provide a permanent home for Head Start and Early Head Start services beginning in the Fall of 2019. Michael Fieldman, UCAN’s Executive Director, states: “Eventually, we want to make this an early childhood service center, as we have a variety of programs that serve early childhood families.” As he points out, families with young children will further benefit from having these programs provided on Roseburg’s nonprofit campus, which also houses the Family Development Center (a local relief nursery), the Umpqua Community Health Clinic, and the Fish Pantry.

Submitted by:
UCAN

Breaking New (Play)Ground

Last month volunteers gathered to prepare the Hillsboro Child Development Center for a whole new playscape. The playground areas for toddlers and preschool age children are both being reimagined to reflect a natural playscape. This playscape will encourage diverse and imaginative styles of play, and a stronger connection with the natural environment.

 

The first step was to remove all of the old equipment in preparation for the construction scheduled to happen later this month. Stay tuned to their Facebook page to track their progress! More pictures of the deconstruction can be found on Facebook as well.

You can support this project by making a donation today!

Oregon’s Community Action Network bids farewell to Jon Reeves

Jon Reeves was hired by Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action (MWVCAA) in 1998 to oversee the Child Care Information Services program, now called Child Care Resource & Referral.

In 2015, after 8 years as the director of MWVCAA’s Head Start program, Jon was hired as the Executive Director. 

Since 2015, the agency:

  • MWVCAA was asked to house Salem’s new youth shelter, expected to open in September 2018, and funded by United Way, Oregon Housing and Community Services and private donations.  The shelter (Taylors House) will fill regional service gaps for at-risk, homeless, runaway and street youth ages 11 – 18 years by offering around the clock holistic support to this vulnerable population at Taylor’s House.
  • Purchased a building in Salem to house the ARCHES Program, the umbrella program for housing and homeless services, including services to veterans.  In November 2018, the facility will add Marion County’s first sobering center.  The Sobering Center will provide a safe, clean and supervised space for intoxicated clients to sober, and serve as an avenue for service connection to detox and substance abuse treatment, in addition to other housing and homeless services offered through MWVCAA and other agencies.  This multi-disciplinary collaboration includes public, private and governmental investments to help relieve the financial and service pressure on our hospital and jail, pressures that have increased dramatically with the growing number of chronically homeless persons in Marion and Polk Counties.

Marion and Polk counties will miss Jon’s willingness to take on new challenges and address the difficult agency capacity issues, that made it possible for the region to experience significant new services designed to serve the most vulnerable citizens.

Jon is moving to a position in the Department of Education where, in the Early Learning Division, he will advance systems for infant and toddler programing.  We wish him well.

Jeff Sargent Steps Down as Executive Director of Yamhill Community Action Programs (YCAP)

Oregon’s Community Action network will miss Jeff Sargent, executive director of Yamhill Community Action Programs (YCAP).  Jeff served three years before stepping down at the end of June. 
 
Jeff believes that he is proudest of the work the agency has done to successfully house and support vulnerable people in Yamhill County.  Jeff said, “I would say the fact that we have been placing homeless people and families into stable homes or keeping them in their homes, and we’ve been getting more emergency food out the door to those who need it.”
 
Sargent started his job at YCAP just as the visibility of homelessness in McMinnville increased.  When leaders of McMinnville Cooperative Ministry began allowing homeless people to sleep overnight on the church grounds in the fall of 2014, more people took notice of the issue.
 
Since then, many local residents united with YCAP to find solutions to the homeless problem. “However, Jeff added, finding answers to the many questions raised by homelessness takes time.”  Jeff’s advice to Yamhill County, “Stay the course because it’s a long process.  There are no easy solutions, as communities have seen all over the country.”
 
Sargent and his wife Julia, are moving to Keizer for what he called “a sabbatical”.  They have no firm plans for what they will do afterward.  Jeff said, “I expect I will still be connected with nonprofits and social services in some form.”   
 
After selling their home, Jeff and Julia did experience what many people have discovered when looking for a place to rent.  The high housing prices in Yamhill County forced them to find a rental in Keizer.
 
The job announcement for his position at YCAP has been posted and is available on the agency website.
 
At the CAPO annual board meeting in June, the CAPO Board of Directors wished Jeff well.  He will be missed.

Published in:
Yamhill Valley News Register

Vital Repairs Help Mother, Daughter Remain in their Home

Maria no longer felt safe in her own home, where she lives with her daughter, Margarita, in rural Malheur County in eastern Oregon. Wind blew in through the cracks around the windows, and water leaked through the roof. But with her low monthly income, Maria could not afford repairs. She was stressed, unsure what to do, and imagined the house might simply fall apart around them while they slept.

A friend suggested they talk to Community in Action, and Maria learned she qualified for assistance from the nonprofit, which had recently received a Housing Preservation Grant from USDA Rural Development to expand their assistance to low-income residents to help make critical repairs to their homes. Marie was one of six residents in Malheur County to receive a grant from Community in Action supported by this USDA program to cover the costs of her home’s maintenance needs.

With this financial assistance, Maria was able to replace her windows and install a new metal roof. Then, midway through construction, the home’s sewer system backed up into the shower and sinks. She and her daughter had to use a neighbor’s bathroom, which was especially difficult for Maria, who uses a walker. When Community in Action learned of the problem, they stepped in and repaired the plumbing as well, still at no cost to the homeowner.

“Without the USDA program, I don’t know what we would have done,” said Maria. “And Community in Action was great to work with.”

The repairs are even saving her money. With the new windows providing improved weatherization, her energy bill was significantly lower this past winter.

“Now I don’t have to worry about drafts coming in all the windows,” said Maria, “and I don’t have to worry about the roof leaking.”

Maria and Margarita now feel safe in their own home. Without the constant stress of knowing the house needed repairs that were too costly, they are enjoying their daily lives again and happy to know they can stay in their home.

Submitted by:
Community in Action

KOBI TV/NBC5 and ACCESS Win Northwest Emmy for SO Close to Homeless

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter presented KOBI TV/NBC5 the Governors Emmy Award for its 24-week series, SO Close to Homeless. The Governors Award is presented to a television station that shows a strong commitment to its designated market area beyond delivering the news.

Representing the project at the 55th Annual Norwest Regional ceremony in Seattle on June 9 were Vice President/General Manager of KOBI TV/NBC5 Bob Wise and KOBI TV/NBC5 Anchor and Reporter Natalie Weber. From ACCESS at the event was Executive Officer Pamela Norr.

The SO Close to Homeless series was produced by KOBI TV in conjunction with ACCESS. SO Close to Homeless gave viewers an in-depth look into the lives of people who are homeless, have been homeless, or who are very close to it. The personal vignettes told the stories of how (often swiftly) employment and income, health care and housing issues took people and families to the point of despair.

Norr commented on the Emmy Award saying, “This award would not have been possible without ACCESS’ amazing partnership of KOBI NBC5, 5:00 Marketing and 25 other agencies. Those organizations and the community members, our neighbors, featured in the stories, are the true ‘stars’ of this series and are the reason for this prestigious award. All deserve a standing ovation! It is an honor to collaborate building community.”

The goal of the on-air and web campaign was to educate and inform people about support programs that help individuals who are experiencing homelessness and/or poverty. The on-line component of the project received 7 million hits.

Wise commented on the award saying, “The effort Natalie Weber and our entire organization put into this series was extraordinary. Truly a collaborative undertaking. We could not be more proud of the Award, but more importantly the impact of local broadcasting informing our viewers of the issues surrounding us.”

On any given night in Jackson County, at least 732 people including children are homeless.

To learn more and to view the entire Emmy-winning SO Close to Homeless series, visit www.soclosetohomeless.org.

Sobering Center coming to serve Marion and Polk Counties

The ARCHES Project of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, in partnership with the City of Salem, Marion County, Bridgeway Recovery, and Salem Health plan to open a sobering center as part of the Day Center renovation scheduled to be completed this fall. The Sobering Center will provide a safe, clean and supervised space for intoxicated clients to sober, and serve as an avenue for service connection to detox and substance treatment, in addition to other housing and homeless services offered through MWVCAA and other agencies. The Oregon legislature and governor’s office have provided start-up financing for the sobering center, to help relieve the financial and service pressure on our hospital and jail, pressures that have increased dramatically with the growing number of chronically homeless persons in Marion and Polk Counties. Submitted by: Community Action Agency