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  • 21 Aug 2014

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Hillsdale project reflects our best values

MyView • Affordable housing benefits residents, community


The Portland Housing Bureau makes investment decisions based on our core values and the bottom line.

Central to our values is the belief that low-income families should be able to live in affordable homes in neighborhoods across Portland, from Lents to the South Waterfront, Cully to Hillsdale.

We are proud to partner with Home Forward in developing Stephens Creek Crossing, formerly known as Hillsdale Terrace. Located in a highly desirable neighborhood in Southwest Portland, it has the parks, public transportation, quality schools and other features we all look for when choosing where to live.

When complete, the new development will create nearly 130 affordable homes for adults and families struggling with poverty. The construction will create 300 family-wage jobs.

The city invested $2 million dollars in this $52.8 million project, which in turn leveraged substantial public and private investments. Home Forward was awarded a highly competitive $18.5 million dollar federal HOPE VI grant, designed to revitalize public housing.

This innovative development will include family-size rental apartments and single-family homes for sale built by Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, through a unique partnership, the new Children’s Center will offer Head Start classes run by local nonprofit Neighborhood House.

No wonder Stephens Creek Crossing has earned the support of editorial boards, elected officials and neighborhood leaders.

Affordable choices

Under the heading of “no good deed goes unpunished,” Lake Oswego resident and former housing official Ray Hallberg takes the project to task in a recent letter to the editor (Hillsdale project swamped by politics, Sept. 26). He makes a number of unfounded and inflammatory claims which are heavy on rhetoric, short on facts.

For example, he complains about the cost of each home, after dividing the project’s total cost by the number of units. This misleading math fails to take into account that Home Forward is building a new community from the ground up, with new sidewalks, community gardens, a community center with meeting spaces, a learning kitchen and a Children’s Center with Head Start classrooms.

Next, Hallberg dismisses the benefits of a mixed-income community, claiming that Stephens Creek Crossing will serve undeserving families. To the contrary, by doubling the number of homes on the site, and including nearby homes for sale, it will serve a range of families and incomes, strengthening the neighborhood.

Finally, he argues that the public investment in affordable homes is an “outrage,” driving up the national debt. We disagree. What’s outrageous is that our country invests so little in affordable homes and healthy families.

What’s outrageous is that 50 million Americans are living in poverty. What’s outrageous is that the Republican nominee for president has actually proposed eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

We believe Stephens Creek Crossing is exactly the sort of community that Portland should invest in. It reflects our best values: affordable, energy-efficient homes, in a great neighborhood with access to quality schools and parks, and a commitment to healthy children and families.

Our challenge in the years ahead is to promote more regional investments in affordable homes, including places like Lake Oswego, so that every family can live in the neighborhood of their choice.

Nick Fish is a city commissioner in charge of the Portland Housing Bureau and Portland Parks and Recreation. Traci Manning is director of the Portland Housing Bureau.