Tag Archives: Northwest Pilot Project

Housing veterans, local numbers fall short

By Robert Britt, Staff Writer

When Army veteran Mark Townsend left the military service in the early ’70s, a decades-long battle with substance abuse and homelessness was just beginning.

Addiction marred Townsend’s transition to civilian life and reduced him to living what he calls a “life of drinking and using.” That life led to legal troubles, mental health issues and a lack of stable housing.

Townsend, now 54, says he repeatedly tried to get help. “I’ve been in and out of the VA several times, trying to get clean and sober, and couldn’t.”

Last August, he entered a residential substance abuse treatment program and was soon told of a federal program that could get him into subsidized housing while providing counseling and treatment for his addiction.

The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program (VASH) is a two-pronged approach to reduce homelessness among veterans. It couples government-subsidized rental vouchers from local, public housing authorities with case-managed assistance and clinical care provided by VA medical centers. When created, the program tasked a VA system already strained from the rising number of returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — with the new responsibility of managing a supportive housing program. Continue reading

Northwest Pilot Project sponsors local artists exhibit

 On Thursday, May 5, the Artreach Gallery will host a group show, sponsored by Northwest Pilot Project’s Art in the Lobby program, featuring work by several artists, including Street Roots volunteer Mary Pacios. Pacios will have four of her charcoal drawings in the Group Show at the Artreach Gallery. The exhibition also features work by artists Pat Ashby, Linda Aleta Coffman, Doug Emmons, Nancy Fasciani, Pat Field, Emma Galvan, Ron Munson, Jeffrey Nedd, Donna Scollard, Terry Lee Steichen and Frances Wood. The public is invited to a reception for the artists from 5 to 7 p.m. that day. Continue reading

In my darkest hours, there were many who shined a light

by Sam Al-Jondi, Contributing Writer

I am not writing this article to be vindictive or angry, but rather trying to find a good solution to one of our social problems: homelessness.

I recently visited those plains. No one in their right mind would want to be there. I have slept in my car from time to time in the past. I thought that was homeless, but recently I have had to sleep in doorways and under bridges — and not just one night. It actually went on for weeks. What I saw was ugly, but everyone must take some responsibility for what takes place in their lives. It is not a mission impossible. It takes will.

Now I want to talk about people who make a difference, starting with the director of this paper, Israel Bayer, who won a good deal of money for a job well done and turned around and donated it to this paper so it can serve the community better. One can never ignore that. Continue reading

Times up at the West with less than a month left to find housing

West Hotel on NW 6th between Davis and Couch

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

All is quiet in the West Hotel.

The two-dozen residents of the Old Town single resident occupancy (SRO) hotel are, for the first time in 27 years, no longer kept awake until one in the morning by the cacophonic punk rock sounds that would drift upwards from the iconic rock nightclub Satyricon two floors below.

The building is quiet to the point of eeriness. Entering the West through a black painted door on Northwest 6th Avenue, walking across the small lobby crowded by two recycling bins stored along one wall and up the steep stairs to a heavy wooden door opening to the first floor, a tenant hears nothing but the sounds of his own footsteps.

But there is something else now keeping the West’s residents awake at night: the possibility that they will become homeless if they don’t find new housing and move to it by Dec. 1.

The Macdonald Center, a Catholic-inspired assisted living facility and social-service agency, gave 60-day eviction-without-cause notices to the tenants on Oct. 1.
The MacDonald Center is nationally recognized for its innovative assisted-living facility, the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Residence, which provides assisted living and nursing care for 54 low-income or homeless people with chronic medical illnesses, physical impairments or disabilities.

The Macdonald Center has owned the West Hotel since October 2008. Executive director Pat Janik says the plan was originally to renovate the West. Built in 1905 and in need of extensive repairs, the West is, to use the words of Northwest Pilot Project’s housing consultant Bobby Weinstock, an “old, tired hotel that has outlived its usefulness.” Continue reading

Downtown “affordable” housing inventory continues to descend

“The city of Portland, nonprofit housing developers and the Housing Authority of Portland deserve praise for slowing the rate of losing units downtown, but that’s not enough to end homelessness,” says Bobby Weinstock. “We’re still down over 1,800 units from our goal.”

The goal of creating and preserving 5,183 units of affordable housing downtown was set by City Council in 1988. The 2010 Northwest Pilot Project Downtown Portland Affordable Housing Inventory counts 3,315 units which currently rent for $437 per month or less. This is the rent level affordable to a single, full-time Oregon minimum wage earner. Affordable housing means paying no more than 30% of gross income for rent.

When is new housing not new? When it’s reprogrammed

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

Portland’s efforts to build a net gain of affordable housing for its lowest income residents have failed more than the city bureau charged with creating that housing would like you to know.

In 1978, 5,183 units in Portland’s downtown core were affordable to people living at 0 to 30 percent of median family income (MFI), considered low-income. In 1984, the city’s Central City Plan mandated that at least that number would always be affordable downtown.

In an effort to get back to that number, the Portland City Council approved a No Net Loss Policy in 2001 calling for rehabilitating, preserving, and creating affordable housing in the central city through regulation and additional financial resources.

Since 1994, the non-profit Northwest Pilot Project, which serves the elderly homeless and low-income, has inventoried downtown affordable housing. The last inventory was published in 2007, and counted 3,330 affordable units in the downtown area, well below the 5,183 units the City has committed to retain. Continue reading