Affordable Housing Initiative: 2015 Recap

While Meyer restructured its grantmaking last year, it wound down its two main grant programs. But the work of the Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) continued at full steam — and it was a very busy year of work for the AHI team, which offered six Requests for Proposals (RFPs), processed 108 applications and approved 61 grants, totaling $5.42 million. In this article, we’ll share an overview of the work of the Affordable Housing Initiative over the last year.

The AHI is structured around three broad goals: to strengthen the foundation, foster innovation and secure the future, and uses multiple strategies to reach those goals.

Most AHI strategies were funded over two years. In the coming year, we do not expect AHI to issue any additional requests for proposals. However, Meyer will be releasing information soon about its new funding opportunities, which will include some affordable housing work under the broader Housing Opportunities portfolio.

STRENGTHENING THE FOUNDATION

Under this goal, we aim to preserve federally rent-subsidized stock at risk of being lost and maintain manufactured housing as a viable housing stock for many rural communities around the state. We funded four specific strategies, described below.

Sustaining Portfolios Strategy. Meyer Memorial Trust invited applications from organizations for flexible funds and technical assistance to support the development and implementation of property-specific portfolio preservation plans to help ensure the long-term sustainability of Oregon’s existing affordable housing. We received thirteen proposals; nine were ultimately funded. Each organization was awarded $150,000.

Cascadia Behavioral Health (Multnomah County)

Catholic Community Services Foundation (Marion County)

Community Partners for Affordable Housing (Washington County)

Cornerstone Community Housing (Lane County)

Housing Authority of Jackson County (Jackson and Josephine counties)

Housing Works (Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties)

Innovative Housing, Inc. (Multnomah County)

ROSE CDC (Multnomah County)

Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services (Benton and Linn counties)

Total Amount awarded: $1,350,000 (over two years)

Capacity Building Technical Assistance Strategy. Meyer received seven applications from affordable housing organizations for support with capacity building and technical assistance to strengthen rent-restricted affordable housing portfolios. This opportunity was targeted at culturally-specific organizations and organizations that have a portfolio that serves at least 50 percent under-resourced rural communities and/or communities of color.

Each organization was awarded $50,000 (except where noted):

Community Action Team (Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties)

Horizon Project (Umatilla County)

NW Coastal Housing (Lincoln County, $25,000)

Marion County Housing Authority (Marion County)

Northwest Oregon Housing Authority (Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties)

Polk Community Development Corporation  (Polk County)

Sabin Community Development Corporation (Multnomah County)

Total Amount Awarded: $325,000 (over one year)

Preservation Strategy. Meyer made one grant to the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing to further the Oregon Housing Preservation Project, a program to preserve expiring contracts for federal rent subsidies at affordable housing properties throughout the state.

Total Amount Awarded: $300,000 (over two years)

Rural Manufactured Housing Strategy. This grant opportunity was made to Community and Shelter Assistance Corporation to support the conversion of manufactured home communities into resident-owned cooperatives statewide.

Total Amount Awarded:  $220,000 (over two years)

FOSTERING INNOVATION

Under this goal, Meyer strives to catalyze innovative strategies to increase availability of affordable housing and support residents’ stability and success. This year, Meyer funded three strategies under this goal.

Innovations in Affordable Housing Design, Finance and Construction Strategy. Meyer convened a panel of experts to dive deep into the cost drivers of affordable housing development. After publishing a report of the findings, we invited proposals that would test new cost-efficient approaches to providing more affordable housing in Oregon. Of the seventeen competitive proposals received, Meyer funded a total of five.

Innovative Housing – $149,138 (Multnomah County): To create a new rental housing community in East Multnomah County comprised of high-quality and energy-efficient new manufactured homes.

Northwest Housing Alternatives – $70,385 (Clackamas, Lane, Washington and Umatilla counties): To compare and evaluate strategies for lowering the cost of new rental housing construction on small-scale projects, with an emphasis on design concepts and financing strategies for rural and suburban infill.

REACH Community Development – $150,000 (Washington County): To pilot building larger, more cost-effective affordable housing projects by combining two kinds of federal housing tax credits, and by adopting design and construction strategies focused on reducing costs.

SquareOne Villages – $148,200 (Lane County): To pilot an improved version of the tiny house village model in a small community with fewer local resources, and to promote very basic, extremely low-cost housing through the development of a toolbox and training kit focused on replicating this approach in other Oregon communities.

Transition Projects, Inc. – $150,000 (Multnomah and Clatsop counties): To pilot a flexible, cost-efficient modular approach to housing development in partnership with Housing Development Center, Holst Architecture, and MODS PDX, a Portland-based manufacturer of modular housing. A second pilot is planned for the Oregon coast led by Northwest Oregon Housing Authority.

Total Amount Awarded: $667,723 (over one year)

Private Market Strategy. The Private Market RFP sought proposals to increase access by low-income renters to quality private market housing units in communities of their choice. Of the 17 proposals received, Meyer funded seven projects over a period of one to two years.

ACCESS – $80,500 (Jackson County): To develop a pilot project to use flexible rent assistance and a landlord risk mitigation fund to increase access for Jackson County families leaving residential addictions treatment with open Child Protective Services cases.

Community Action Program of East Central Oregon – $50,000 (Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam and Wheeler counties): To develop a Housing Navigator position and setup a landlord risk mitigation fund for low-income Latino families in Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam and Wheeler counties.

JOIN – $84,990 (Multnomah County): To co-fund, along with the Portland Housing Bureau, development of a homeless systems landlord retention and recruitment toolkit and training program for service providers.

Multifamily NW $149,850 (Statewide): To fund the Housing Choice Educational Partnership to develop educational material and a training toolkit about fair housing laws.

Northwest Housing Alternatives – $149,510 (Clackamas County): For a pilot project aimed at increasing low-income renters’ housing access in Clackamas County by using flexible funding tools to encourage private landlords to relax screening criteria.

Northwest Oregon Housing Authority – $80,000 (Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties): To fund a collaborative to develop a security deposit loan pilot project aimed at providing case management for private market renters in rural Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties.

Northwest Pilot Project – $130,000 (Multnomah County): For a pilot project to prevent the displacement of low-income residents from Inner Portland neighborhoods, using permanent rent assistance (S8) to help seniors [EH6] of color remain in their communities.

Total Amount Awarded: $650,000 (over two years)

Systems Alignment Strategy. Meyer invited proposals from collaboratives proposing to better align affordable housing with services that contribute to residents’ stability and success. We received 21 excellent projects looking to align housing with several different systems and funded nine projects over one to two years.

ACCESS – $24,000 (Jackson County): For piloting and documenting close collaboration between housing and other services in Southern Oregon to better meet the needs of families involved with child welfare and TANF programs.

Catholic Community Services of the Mid Willamette – $75,000 (Marion County): For the Fostering Hope Initiative, which will develop a ‘Pay for Success’ (PFS) system in Marion County focused on diverting children from the foster care system through strong coordination between affordable housing, education, health and other social service systems.

Columbia Gorge Health Council – $128,500 (Hood River and Wasco counties): For the Bridges to Health – Housing Pathways project, which works to better link housing and services in the Columbia Gorge through a ‘Pathways’ model basing payments on the achievement of specific pre-defined housing related outcomes.

Community Action Partnership of Oregon – $110,162 (Statewide, with a focus on Jackson, Klamath and Lake counties): For piloting and documenting close collaboration between housing and other services in Southern Oregon to better meet the needs of families involved with child welfare and TANF programs.

Enterprise Community Partners – $150,000 (Portland Metro): For ‘Innovation through Flexible Spending Benefits,’ a pilot program that uses flexible spending for housing-related expenses as a cost-effective strategy to support better

Klamath-Lake Community Action Services – $50,000 (Klamath and Lake counties): For piloting and documenting close collaboration between housing and other services in Southern Oregon to better meet the needs of families involved with child welfare and TANF programs.

REACH Community Development – $150,000 (Multnomah County): For the ‘Housing with Services Pilot Project,’ supporting a robust network of services to residents of affordable housing properties in Portland.

United Way of Lane County – $75,000 (Lane County): For the integration of early learning and affordable housing services in Lane County, to improve the kindergarten-readiness and family stability of affordable housing residents.

Worksystems, Inc. – $128,139 (Multnomah and Washington counties): For the ‘Home to Work Collaborative Project,’ which aligns housing support (and homelessness prevention) with employment resources in Multnomah and Washington counties.

Total Amount Awarded: $890,801 (over two years)

SECURING THE FUTURE

This third AHI goal aims to develop resources and policies that will expand the availability of affordable housing into the future. We funded one strategy under this goal.

Advocacy. Meyer’s advocacy RFP invited proposals from organizations engaged in community-driven public policy advocacy and community organizing to increase access to and resources for affordable housing in local jurisdictions and across Oregon. Advocacy is identified in the AHI Framework as a key strategy for advancing a broader agenda around improving access to safe, decent and affordable housing around the state. Of the 19 proposals received in this RFP, we funded ten projects that will run over one to two years.

Center for Intercultural Organizing $80,000 (Multnomah, Washington and Jackson counties): To develop and mobilize tenants leaders in Multnomah, Washington and Jackson Counties around local and state housing policy issues that affect Oregonians, including low-income rural households, immigrants and refugees.

Community Alliance of Tenants – $88,746 (Multnomah County): To support community-based participatory research, organizing and advocacy around policy change to protect tenants from no-cause termination/eviction.

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization  $62,000 (Portland Metro): To expand the diversity of voices in housing advocacy to address racial disparities directly related to housing and increase the availability of affordable housing for marginalized immigrant and refugee families.

Mid-Columbia Housing Authority – $35,000 (Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties): To support a community-based housing network to address affordable housing issues in the Gorge.

Oregon Center for Public Policy – $40,000 (Statewide): For general operating support

Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence – $23,314 (Statewide): To expand partnership efforts in housing advocacy for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Tillamook County Community Action Resource Enterprises – $40,000 (Tillamook County): To support to a new countywide housing task force and complete a countywide housing assessment.

Urban League of Portland – $90,000 (Statewide) To organize Oregon’s African American communities to improve access to affordable, accessible, culturally-appropriate and safe housing.

Welcome Home Coalition – $80,000 (Multnomah County): To support the Welcome Home Coalition’s Leadership Academy.

Total Amount Awarded: $539,060 (over one to two years)

In addition, Meyer made a grant of $138,000 (over two years) to the Housing Alliance for its Diversifying Voices program. This project has statewide reach.  

ANCILLARY FUNDS

The AHI’s core investments are supported by a small pool of ancillary grant funds to help build capacity and long-term sustainability of affordable housing organizations serving under-resourced communities through technical assistance, training, operating support and strategic growth capital. In the last year, Meyer made eleven grants — mostly for technical assistance, training support and grants to support equity advancement in the housing field — that totaled $345,500 over two years.


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