City celebrating opening of 100 affordable housing units in Old Town
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – City and county staffers, as well as members of a local nonprofit, are celebrating the opening of the Starlight, a building with 100 new affordable housing units in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood.
The units are a part of a $33 million project by Central City Concern. Funding for the development came from a vote in Nov. 2016, the city’s first-ever housing bond worth $258.4 million.
Central City Concern says of the 100 units available at the Starlight, 70 will give permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness. The remaining will be for community members with limited incomes.
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“This is really significant because this project was designed to support folks who suffer from a history of chronic homelessness,” said Andy Mendenhall, CEO and President of Central City Concern. “Our goal is to give folks permanent housing. Every person that is suffering from homelessness or conditions that make them at risk for homelessness deserve the respect and the dignity that a beautiful place like this will create for them.”
Central City Concern has been working in Portland since 1979. According to it’s website, more than 13,000 people turn to the organization for help each year.
“We know that right now there is a need for more resources and an ability to help transform our city,” said Mendenhall. “Great success is happening. Opening the Starlight represents one of those successes. What we know is that we need to scale this interventions and scale them quickly to meet the needs of the community. What’s next at the Starlight is we are going to start our lease up process. We are excited because these units will predominately support members of communities of color who have experienced chronic homelessness. On site, we will be providing culturally specific programming, connecting folks to housing, healthcare resources, employment resources. We are really exited to see the community grow and improve in Old Town.”
There is an art space on the first floor that will allow residents to explore their own creativity and participate in guided art workshops. It’s a place where artists like Saleam Bey can showcase their work. He says he’s applied to live at the Starlight and will hear if he’s been approved in the next few days.
“It really it was fate,” said Bey. “I was walking randomly and good people saw me with my canvases and pointed me out to people who lead me here. I’m thankful to be here. I feel like it’s fair and a chance for people to have a better opportunity in their life.”
The Nov. 2016 housing bond is expected to create 1,300 permanently affordable housing units.
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