In The Beginning

The work that's just begun at Taggart Manor in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood in southeast Portland, Oregon, is not the largest project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At just a hair over $300,000, in fact, it's probably one of the smallest. But for the 24 families who call Taggart Manor home, it probably is the most important.

Taggart Manor is owned and operated, with assistance from HUD, by Central City Concerns, a non-profit corporation founded in 1979 and committed to providing housing, health care and social and supportive services to families and individuals "impacted by homelessness, poverty and addiction." More than half of its 1,300 units are alcohol- and drug-free to help speed the residents' recovery from their addictions.

Taggart Manor is one of 20 residential buildings in Central City's inventory. Built in 1960, it's also one of the oldest properties. Since acquiring it eight years ago, Central City has little opportunity to upgrade it. Thanks to the Recovery Act, now it will.

It knows right where to start - energy efficiency. Taggart Manor has one of the largest "energy footprints" of any Central City Concerns property. Take a look, for example, at its water bills. The average unit spends $230 more per year than other units of comparable size. And what's true of water use is true of electricity use - with old windows, inadequate insulation and leaky roofs, Taggart's more than a few shades away from being "green."

That's why it's getting $301,750 in Recovery Act funds. The funds will be used to increase attic insulation to R-60.  To replace every water heater. To install energy efficient windows in every unit. To replace a 15-year, composition roof with a 50-year metal one.

Not long ago, HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims visited Portland. Following a "no-holds barred" meeting with HUD partners at City Hall to talk about what's working - and what's not - with HUD's implementation of Recovery Act programs, he wanted to see the Recovery Act in action. He headed to Taggart Manor.

He was, to say the least, impressed.

"These days "sustainability" is all the rage and, given the challenge of global warming, it's no wonder why," he said. "But too often when we talk sustainability we focus on what we can do to make new buildings green. But what's happening at Taggart clearly demonstrates that sustainability is an issue for older buildings too. The City of Portland and Central City Concerns are showing us what needs to be done in older buildings to conserve energy, cut costs and keep older buildings in our inventory of affordable housing available to families who need them."

Even better, what's happening at Taggart Manor is about to happen in rental complexes all across the country as the Recovery Act has provided HUD with the funds to "retrofit" HUD-assisted multifamily complexes nationwide. It is, as HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has noted, the beginning of a brand new, "green" housing industry in the United States. And, in its own, small way, Taggart Manor can claim it was there at the beginning.


Content Archived: December 31, 2013