More Than One Basket

[Photo: Resource Access Center]

The Housing Authority of Portland is receiving almost $13.7 million in funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by the Congress and signed by President Obama this past Spring.

Visit the Authority's Website ( and you realize quickly that it's following advice your Mom and Dad probably gave you to not spend all of its funds in one place or put all its Recovery Act resources into one basket.

To the contrary, the key to the Authority's plan is balance, using these one-time funds for urgent repairs and upgrades at more than 15 of its housing complexes all across the city. At Camellia Court on North Lombard Street, for example, it's using Recovery Act funds to upgrade plumbing and electrical systems. At Stark Manor on SE 217th Avenue its using the funds to help renovate kitchens and bathrooms. It's installing new furnaces and water heaters at Celilo Court on NE 95th Avenue. And it's putting in energy-efficient windows at Harold Lee Village on SE 112th Avenue.

That said, the Authority does have at least one "big ticket" project on its Recovery Act portfolio - the eight-story Resource Access Center it wants to build at the request of the City of Portland near Union Station in downtown. The building is one of nine key recommendations made by the Citizens Commission on Homelessness in its Home Again: A Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Portland and Multnomah County that was adopted by the Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commission in 2004 to "provide homeless people direct access to programs that move them into permanent housing."

When completed, the LEED-certified Center will include a day shelter, 130 studio apartments for homeless individuals and couples who need permanent, affordable housing and a modern shelter for up to 90 homeless men. It will also provide services - and lots of them - to an estimated 1,000 Portlanders a day. At the Resource Access Center, they'll find housing, employment and treatment counseling, hot showers, storage and communication services to help with job and housing services. Simply put, it's a one-stop hub where folks who are down on their luck can go for help them get off the streets and back on their feet.

But the homeless aren't the only ones who will benefit. So will the surrounding community. There no longer will be sidewalk queues of people waiting for the services they need. The Resource Access Center will replace an aging men's shelter which will be demolished and the site used for more affordable workforce housing. And, in a period when so many construction sites have shut down, building the Center will employ 125 members of the construction trades industry.

On September 30th, the Resource Access Center received the final piece of financial support it needs to move its dream when Authority executive director Steve Rudman was able to announce it had been competitively awarded some $3.3 million in Recovery Act funds that would help it to "close financing" on the $46 million project. "It is an excellent example of using federal economic recovery funding," added City Commissioner Nick Fish, "for projects that will serve a double purpose of stimulating the local economy with construction jobs and help folks in need with housing and services."

With so much to be grateful for, ground was broken, appropriately enough, on the Friday before Thanksgiving.


Content Archived: December 23, 2013