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Stories of Impact



Technical assistance from NDC has resulted in a financing plan for the City of Gresham, OR, an NDC client community, that will make possible a combined human services center and apartment complex for Gresham’s impoverished Rockwood neighborhood. This new building will house eight social service agencies and 47 apartments, 15 for homeless families, bringing together under one roof critically-needed services and facilities for community residents. NDC assisted the City of Gresham in applying for a $1,373,000 HUD Section 108 loanthat will be used as leverage in a New Markets Tax Credit transaction by Bank of America CDE. Closing on the Section 108 loan and the combined NMTC / LIHTC financing is set to occur by mid-August.

To read more about this unique project, here’s a story that appeared recently in The Oregonian: 

In Rockwood, One Building Will House Eight Social Service Agencies
Steve Beaven, The Oregonian
Published: Friday, July 09, 2010

The grassy, vacant lot along Northeast 181st Avenue in Gresham sits next to a dead-end street and several low-income apartment complexes. The site at one point was farmland, and until a few years ago, traveling carnivals pitched their tents there.

But in the next several weeks, if all goes as planned, the lot will be transformed into a construction site where crews will build a $17 million facility for eight social service providers. By the time it’s finished next summer, the building is expected to be a hub for residents in and around Gresham’s poverty-stricken Rockwood neighborhood. The agencies will provide day care, employment assistance and Head Start classes, among other services. And nearly four dozen low-income apartments will be a part of the complex.

Human Solutions, a social service agency with offices in Portland and east Multnomah County, is coordinating the project. The hope is that the facility will provide one-stop services for residents who would otherwise have to hopscotch from one agency to another in a traffic-choked neighborhood.

“In one building, everything will be much faster and more convenient,” said Serghei Zaharia, a former Human Solutions client who now works at the agency.

Rockwood has long been one of the poorest neighborhoods in the county, with about one in five people in the school district that serves the area living below the poverty level. Nine out of 10 students at the two elementary schools in the area receive federally subsidized meals. And the need for services is far greater than the assistance that’s available, said Jean DeMaster, Human Solutions executive director. Her agency turns down thousands of requests each year for help with rent, utility bills and shelter because funding can’t keep up with the demand.

Concerns have been raised about how a large social service center will affect the neighborhood, said Lori Stegmann, an insurance agent and vice chairwoman of the Rockwood Business Coalition. But the Rockwood Neighborhood Association favors the development. And Stegmann believes the facility is a necessary addition.

“These services are really needed,” Stegmann said. “If you have to go to downtown Portland to get the assistance you need, it’s much more difficult.”

The building will be on Northeast 181st Avenue between Couch and Davis streets. It will be three stories, with the social services and a community room on the first floor and 47 apartments on the top two floors. Fifteen of the apartments will be reserved for homeless families. The Human Solutions office will replace its two Gresham offices.

Funding has come from about 40 sources, DeMaster said. A fundraising campaign provided $1.5 million, and a Section 108 loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development totaled $1.3 million.

Construction is expected to start late this month or in early August, after final approval from the Gresham City Council.

In addition to housing and anti-poverty assistance, advocates also hope the building will provide a boost for development in Rockwood. Already, a new courthouse is planned. The city also intends to develop a vacant parcel formerly occupied by a Fred Meyer store. The apartment residents and about 60 people who will work below are expected to increase demand for restaurants, retail services and, perhaps, additional housing.

“We hope that will stimulate a lot more building in that area,” DeMaster said