Grant money, partnerships bring transitional youth housing complex to Beaverton

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Boys and Girls Aid CEO Michael Balter shows off a new bedroom that a homeless youth in Beaverton moved into this week, thanks to multiple organizations and the city of Beaverton. What was in late October a dilapidated old house in need of some serious tender loving care is now a shiny, inviting and well-appointed home for six formerly homeless teenagers.

The Boys and Girls Aid Transitional Living Program unveiled the extensive renovations to the four-unit complex at 11855 S.W. Fifth St. on Friday to Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle and representatives from the Home Builders Foundation and the project’s 14 other homebuilding partners.

“This is neat stuff to see the community coming together with 15 homebuilder partners,” Doyle said.

Funded by a $493,000 Community Block Grant the city of Beaverton received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, the project allows the Boys and Girls program to move its residents from a rented duplex in Hillsboro to a more permanent, centralized setting. The current residents took over their new digs on Monday.

“Overall, this is a better location,” said Vera Stoulil, vice president of operations for Southwest Portland-based Boys and Girls Aid. “It’s more centralized. There is access to shopping and local transit systems.”

Three of the four units will house two youths each, with the fourth providing space for an on-site manager and a community room.

“It provides a new level of independence,” Stoulil said. “This puts them in a more natural setting.”

Serving Washington County youth aged 16 to 21 who are facing homelessness or unstable housing for a period of about 18 months, the program is designed with an eye toward independent living. While residing in the apartments, the youths participate in skill-building meetings. They are required to have a job, save at least 30 percent of their income and finish their high school or general equivalent diploma.

The renovated complex on Fifth Street marks a milestone in the city’s 10-year collaborative plan to address homelessness problems in Washington County. The Boys and Girls Aid organization started looking for suitable property about a year ago, with the HUD grant from the city providing funding for the approximately $300,000 purchase price.

The city purchased and donated the property to Boys and Girls Aid, explained Michael Balter, the organization’s president and chief executive officer. The complex must maintain its transitional-housing mission as part of the 30-year TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Dan Gerrone, center, and Roger Neu check out the remodeled kitchen of Beaverton's new Boys and Girls Aid transition home.

“If it ceases to be used for something like this, such as Section 8 (affordable) housing, then it goes back to the city,” he said.

The Lake Oswego-based Home Builders Foundation, a organization that channels resources from Oregon’s home-building industry into community-oriented building projects, was key in transforming the interior of the new Boys and Girls Aid home from a worn-out husk of a building to an inviting nest for those in need. This is the foundation’s first project in Beaverton since it started doing volunteer-based builds in 2005.

“It’s the Home Builders Association’s way to give back to the community,” explained Ken Cowdery, the foundation’s project manager. “If (youths) don’t find transitional housing, they’re going to end up in downtown Portland.”

From the fence along Fifth Street, which was replaced with the help of 40 volunteers through Catalyst Partnerships last fall, to state-of-the-art, energy-efficient windows donated by Beaverton-based Mercer Windows, new appliances and heating and cooling units, the changes since last fall are striking.

“We called in some favors,” Cowdery said. “Some things are donated, and some are significantly discounted.”

Other contributors range from Walmart, which donated $15,000 for exterior landscaping to Garlic Jim’s on Southwest Walker Road, whose owners agreed to donate a portion of its proceeds to the transitional home as well as pizza to its residents every Friday for the next year.

“It’s just been amazing,” said Andrea Nelson, the city of Beaverton’s community development block grant coordinator, of the community involvement. “Even down to Beaverton residents calling us to help.”

Suggesting Beaverton is able to work in unique partnerships that are more difficult to bring together in larger cities, Doyle emphasized the transitional housing complex is but one step in taking on the larger issue of homeless youth and disenfranchised citizens.

“This is still a small town in a lot of ways,” he said. “But we’re not going to solve all our problems at once. It’s a drop, and then another drop. The more stuff (the city) can do, and the more the community is involved, the better off we are.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A four-plex housing unit was bought by the city of Beaverton and remodeled to assist homeless youths.

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