This blog is taken from St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church’s website with the assistance of the Rev. Maria McDowell. Read the original post here. The image above was from Design Research Office LLC.

On February 8th, the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB)  announced its award of $11,250,000 for The Alcena. This is a huge step forward! 

By awarding The Alcena this funding, PHB is indicating its confidence in Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. PCRI and their mission to increase stability for low-income and vulnerable residents in N/NE Portland, especially Black residents. St. Philip is so proud to partner with PCRI in their work. We are also so grateful that a seed planted decades ago by the parishioners of St. Philip, to build affordable housing for seniors, is finally coming to fruition. As Mother Alcena Boozer said when she heard the news, “Hallelujah and Amen!”

What we are building

The award is to build a 74-unit building that includes both low- and very-low income housing, managed by PCRI, and partnered with NW Pilot Project as a Service Provider that specializes in servicing very low-income seniors. 

The planned development includes 75 units of affordable housing. There will be four studio apartments, seventy (70) one-bedroom apartments, and one two-bedroom apartment. Twelve (12) units are for tenants who are at or below 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Nineteen (19) units are Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units that are supported with Project-Based Section 8 vouchers. Forty-Four (44) units are for those who earn 60% of the area’s median income. These units expect to serve seniors from communities of color. 

It is likely that construction may begin within 18-24 months.

Who we are building with

Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc, Portland’s oldest African American Lead nonprofit housing developer, with a focus on serving the Black and African American community in North and Northeast Portland, will serve as the lead developer. Second Stories will serve as the Development Consultant. Colas Constriction, Oregon’s largest Black-owned construction company, will build the project. Design Research Office will design the project with support from Salazar Architects IncThe Housing Development Center will serve as a financial management consultant.

The management by PCRI draws in African-American residents, and NW Pilot Project draws in seniors, creating the intersection where St. Philip is able to welcome our elders home. The award from PHB also commits us to use our land for affordable housing for 99 years. Basically, this is legalese for “as long as the building is still standing.” This means that the land of St. Philip will be in the trusted hands of a locally-owned, black-managed, non-profit that is committed to our community, our neighborhood, our land.

Next Steps

Now, a new phase of work begins. First, PCRI and STPD will enter into a contractual agreement regarding the use of our land. This agreement is under active discussion between Director Horner, Reverend Maria, our respective lawyers, and the Diocese. The priority of St. Philip is to ensure that  we complete our funding “stack.” It will likely involve the formation of an LLC held by PCRI and STPD which will own the new plot of land formed by joining 130 NE Knott St. and the STPD parking lot.

Second, we need to complete the funding “stack” for The Alcena. All affordable housing is funded by a “stack” of funding from a variety of sources. We are in the process of applyihng for further credits via the Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program.

Third, PCRI, NW Pilot Project, and STPD will discuss how to best partner with one another to provide the services necessary to support our new neighbors. STPD in particular can serve as a conversation partner with the neighborhood, helping build connection and relationship so that our new neighbors are welcomed and supported by the full Eliot neighborhood and STPD community.

A Community in the making

This award is two years and countless hours of conversations, meetings, late nights, brainstorming and hoping. It is a dream started decades ago by the members of St. Philip, who have tried to build housing at least three times before. This time, we passed the funding hurdle. Now, on to contracts, design, construction, and most importantly, continuing the build the relationships that will make this not just a housing facility, but The Alcena: An Affordable Living Community.