Tag Archives: Mike Purcell

One building owner’s journey to preserve affordable housing

From the Dec. 12 special affordable housing edition, “In need of a new deal.”

In the 22 years he’s lived in downtown Portland’s Admiral Apartments, Michael Mulvey has amassed 300 CDs, 200 albums on vinyl and a formidable collection of coffee mugs.

His dragon boat paddle graces one side of his one-bedroom apartment, for which he pays $161 a month. On another wall hangs an abacus, which Mulvey, who is blind, uses to take down telephone numbers.

“It’s a long time to live in one location,” said Mulvey, 63. “I just didn’t realize how comfortable I was until we learned we were going to be moving.”

Mulvey is one of the longest-term residents of the Admiral, a former hotel on Southwest Park Avenue and Taylor Street that is nearly 100 years old. The building’s 36 other tenants, who pay a third of their income in rent, are mostly elderly, mentally or physically disabled, or dealing with substance abuse.

The Admiral’s 30-year Section 8 subsidy, which keeps rent affordable for its low-income residents, is set to expire at the end of 2010. On Nov. 7, the building’s longtime owner sold the property to a developer, which means Mulvey and the others will have to pack up and relocate by next spring. For the increasingly upscale city center, it’s an unsurprising story so far.

In this case, however, the tenants’ displacement is only temporary. Though he could not afford to renew the Section 8 contract himself, owner Mike Purcell sold the building to the nonprofit REACH Community Development. REACH plans to relocate tenants, renovate the aging building, renew the subsidy for 20 more years, then move the same tenants – if the tenants so choose – back to their former rooms.

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(Michael Mulvey sits on the stoop of The Admiral Apartments – photo by Leah Nash)

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