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Housing Center extends Hispanic outreach westward

Program opens doors to home ownership for local families

On Southwest Griffith Drive in Beaverton, Humberto Carlos is directing subcontractor traffic at Portland Housing Center West, the first satellite office for the 23-year-old nonprofit housing counseling organization.

Carlos, a housing counselor and former business manager fluent in English and Spanish, will manage the new office. The grand opening is Oct. 23, but classes have already begun.

“I’m really happy we’re here,” says Carlos, a Washington County resident for 30 years. “This kind of help is needed.”

“This has been our dream for a long time,” says Peg Malloy, executive director and founder of the Portland Housing Center. “We’ve had Spanish-language classes before, but this will give us a presence in Washington County, where so many Latinos live.”Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: KENDRA HOGUE - After receiving Spanish-language housing counseling from the Portland Housing Center, the Flores family moved to a brand-new, four-bedroom home in Beaverton eight months ago. From left, David, Martha and David Benjamin Flores, 14.

Hispanic or Latino residents comprise 16.1 percent of Washington County’s population, according to a 2013 update from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Family of five

In January, Beaverton residents David and Martha Flores and their three sons moved from a two-bedroom rental into their first home.

Even eight months later, the Flores family can hardly believe how beautiful and spacious their home is.

“It’s brand-new, with four bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a two-car garage,” says David Flores. “It’s upgraded with granite tile counters and wood floors.”

They paid $239,000 for the house. The couple started working toward their homeownership goal about five years ago, clearing up their debts and increasing their credit score by purchasing a car and making timely payments.

Then they attended Spanish-language homebuying classes through Portland Housing Center in Northeast Portland.

“I give it 10 stars,” says David Flores, who speaks both English and Spanish fluently, but his wife is most comfortable speaking Spanish. “Good service, friendly service, and it’s valuable for Spanish-speaking people like us. It’s difficult to go to closing and see all that paper in another language.”

Full house

The first class at the Portland Housing Center West office started Oct. 2 and continues once a week for five weeks. Carlos didn’t know what to expect in the days leading up to the class, but he hoped at least eight or nine people would show up, as they have when classes have been offered in Cornelius.

Fifteen couples were signed up for the Beaverton Financial Fitness Class, “Decide tu Futuro,” but Carlos wondered how many would actually show. All of them came.

Carlos and Malloy explained that their Spanish-language classes and counseling are more than the English-teaching materials, translated from English to Spanish.

“We use a method in Latin America that is more interactive than classes,” Carlos says. “It’s interactive, we make a commitment, and we learn from each other.

“We ask things like, ‘What was your first notion of money? Who handled money in the house? Was banking part of your experience?’”

Homebuying 101 is an eight-hour class that covers credit, savings, what documents you need to take to the loan officer. “We invite a lender, a Realtor and a home inspector to explain what they do,” Carlos says.

“We have an advisory committee” for outreach to the Latino community, he adds. “Centro Cultural de Washington County and Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center have helped us.”

“The goal is to get as many people through the program as possible,” says Carlos, who emphasized that courses and counseling are also offered in English. “We would like to help 50 people or families qualify for a home in the first year. We’ll see how this develops.”

“Purchasing a home is a step at a time,” says Flores, whose sons are 17, 14 and 6. “We were on a journey until we got that key. We wanted to live in Beaverton because we like the schools, my mother lives nearby, and my wife works as a researcher five minutes away.

“We’re really happy.”

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