As affordable-rate units expire or are built over, the city of Portland desperately struggles to retain — or build more — low-income housing with a variety of strategies that in this case, won a national award.
The Bronaugh Apartments, a historic three-floor building located at 1434 S.W. Morrison St., won the 23rd annual Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the HUD Preservation Category. The building is home to elderly and disabled Oregonians who live on fixed incomes.
REACH Community Development Corporation (CDC) accepted the award in Washington, D.C., in early June.
"The Bronaugh Apartments are a prime example of how the low-income housing credit helps preserve affordable homes to Americans who need it the most," said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. "REACH did an outstanding job of leveraging the housing credit to attract public and private investments critical to ensuring that more Oregon families, seniors and veterans would have a roof over their head and be safe. Congratulations to all of the partners involved on this well-deserved national recognition."
The award always goes to the most outstanding low-income housing tax credit developments across eight categories, presented by the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition, a trade organization of housing professionals who advocate for affordable rental housing financed using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
"Each year, the Edson Awards recognize and celebrate the Housing Credit's unique ability to improve lives, strengthen our communities and boost the economy. This year's winners remind us how vital the program is for Oregon and America," said Anthony J. Alfieri, president of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition. "The Housing Credit is America's primary source of funding for affordable housing, and as such must be expanded to ensure that more developments like the Bronaugh Apartments are possible."
A panel of four judges selected eight first place winners and eight honorable mentions for this year's awards program.
The Housing Credit is America's and Oregon's primary tool for creating and preserving affordable housing, financing nearly all affordable rental homes since it was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
The affordable Bronaugh
The City of Portland identified 11 buildings as at risk of conversion from affordable to market-rate rents, including the Bronaugh, because their Section 8 contracts were about to expire. In the "11x13" preservation campaign, the City hoped to preserve the affordability of the 11 expiring projects — which in this case worked.
After working for five years, the 11 buildings were preserved, giving 700 apartments affordable rates for the next 60 years.
The Bronaugh was the last building to be saved through the campaign: REACH purchased it in 2013 to preserve its 50 affordable apartments.
"Our commitment to creating and preserving affordable homes for Portland residents is brought to life by the Bronaugh, and we're honored that it was recognized with an Edson as one of the most outstanding Housing Credit developments in the country," said Dan Valliere, chief executive director with REACH.
The 1905 building is listed on the National Historic Registry. Many of its residents have lived in it for more than 20 years.
When REACH concluded the renovations, it added a resident services coordinator to the building, offering REACH programs and services to tenants, supporting and improving their economic stability.
"The renovation of the Bronaugh Apartments is a shining example of the importance of affordable housing preservation," said Margaret Salazar, Director of Oregon Housing and Community Services. "At a time when stable and affordable housing is scarce, protecting the existing housing stock is just as critical as developing new affordable opportunities. We commend REACH for their work to ensure that Oregonians continue to have access to safe and stable housing at The Bronaugh."
Funding sources and partners, including HUD, the State of Oregon, Portland Housing Bureau, Network for Oregon Affordable Housing (NOAH) and the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.