Renovations at the Metzger home make life more comfortable for a dozen troubled teens
by: Jaime Valdez Program Director Trina Strand tours the “dude dorm” a converted attic-turned-rec-room at Cordero House, a Metzger home for abused teenagers that recently finished a two-year renovation.

METZGER - After two years of construction, Cordero House is finally finished.

'It's amazing,' said 17-year-old Malcolm, who lives at the house. 'I'm blown away by all the work everyone did. I've never seen a place like this before.'

The 97-year-old farmhouse at the corner of Southwest Locust Street and 82nd Avenue has stood as a home for abused teenagers since the 1970s, providing a roof and counseling to hundreds of troubled teenaged boys.

Today there are a dozen young men living in the home, in the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority. There, the boys undergo counseling for up to two years until they are ready to move on to foster care or other programs.

Originally the plan was to add a larger family room for counseling sessions with large groups, said Trina Strand, Cordero House program director for Janus Youth Services, and was believed to only last a few months.

'It started out as a small dream,' she said. 'We do a lot of counseling with families. Often, problems with families are generational and it's not just these kids who struggle, but often there's a lot of pain and a lot of stuff that's gone on throughout the family.

'We try to reach out to all of them,' she said. 'But there wasn't any place that was big enough to fit a large family and I thought if I could just have a bigger space we could work with more families and we could reach out more.'

But as crews began to look into the remodel, the list of renovations quickly grew.

'This is a great house,' Strand said. 'But it needed a lot of work.'

Before, the 12 boys had to take turns in the home's two showers, and a poor water heater forced the boys to five-minute showers apiece in order to conserve hot water.

The kitchen, too, needed serious work, Strand said, with a barely functioning oven and only one or two stove burners working, making cooking for 12 difficult.

About 100 companies and nonprofits donated materials and labor to the remodel project, Strand said, and the new house now features new appliances in the kitchen, an industrial strength water heater for showers, and an attic rec-room dubbed 'the dude dorm.'

Crews gutted the inside to add on the large family room and completely remodeled the entire house, Strand said.

'It was just a shell of the old house,' Strand said. 'It probably would have been much easier to tear the whole house down and start over, but there's a lot of value in what this house meant to the kids and staff. They went out of their way to keep the old bones.

The remodeled home also includes new offices for staff and counselors and an improved on-campus schoolhouse, where the boys take classes before integrating back to public school.

'We now have a fully remodeled house,' Strand said. 'Probably our porch is the only remnant of much of it, and even that got repaired and painted.'

The boys were moved to a building in Southeast Portland for a year and a half as crew began to remodel the house under the direction of the Home Builders Foundation of Metropolitan Portland.

'It was a slow process but an amazing process,' Strand said.

Malcolm, 17, is one of two boys who lived in the house before the remodel. Now completing his third year at the house, he plans to move to a foster home soon.

'I thought the old house was nice, until I saw this place,' Malcolm said. 'Now looking back I guess it was getting old.

'The new house gives us more time to do a lot of different things,' Malcolm said.

'Originally, in the old house, it was a lot harder to keep clean and cooking meals was difficult,' he said. 'Now I really like it, It's amazing.'

Strand said the larger house will also allow Cordero House to bring in a few more boys, capping the number at 14.

Cordero House is located at 8212 S.W. Locust St., in Metzger.

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