Stimulus Put to Work: PCRI Creates Jobs, Housing

June 16, 2011 · by pcriadmin · PCRI

On Thursday morning, June 16, Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI) welcomed community members and project partners to celebrate the completed rehabilitation of 12 units of affordable housing at four sites in North Portland.  The Grand Re-Opening celebration showcased PCRI and General Contractor Colas Construction’s most dramatic transformation—a grand 1909 four-bedroom, two-bath single-family home—and highlighted the project’s success in increasing PCRI’s diverse affordable housing options, creating construction jobs and providing unique opportunities for community partnerships.

The rehabilitation, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and financed through Portland Housing Bureau, provides significant improvements to the rental homes.  Upgrades like new siding, roofs and paint compliment less obvious benefits such as improved indoor air ventilation and upgraded weatherization that will ensure affordable utilities for residents and low maintenance costs for PCRI.  But what caught visitors’ attention during the open house were the beautifully refinished floors and the preserved character of the turn-of-the-century home (below: one home before and after).

“I love that it’s an old house so it’s got all the character, but everything in it looks so new!” said visitor Orion Lumiere, Communications and Development Manager for Oregon Opportunity Network.  “It’s the best of both worlds,” she added.

These affordable rental homes exemplify PCRI’s diverse portfolio and the benefit of these affordable housing options.

“This scattered-site approach helps to weave families into the fabric of their neighborhood and is a consistent and unique opportunity for PCRI to eliminate concentrations of poverty,” said Maxine Fitzpatrick, PCRI Executive Director.

Two detached single-family homes—one with two bedrooms and one with four—in North Portland’s quiet University Park neighborhood were completely renovated (below: before and after photos of one home’s kitchen).  Two other properties—a two-unit turn-of-the-century home and a eight-unit mid-century complex—are within walking distance of hip North Mississippi Avenue and received significant upgrades to ensure the units’ durability and functionality.  All of these improvements were completed at a fraction of the cost of building new housing units.

Beyond preserving affordable housing, the project was also an opportunity to preserve area jobs–a priority of the stimulus funds that financed the project.  Throughout the course of the project, construction trades amassed over 3,100 hours of work improving the units inside and out.  In addition, the rehabilitation was a Davis-Bacon prevailing wage project.  While this ensured the project’s construction jobs were good-paying ones, it also involved detailed and elaborate reporting requirements.  In keeping with Colas Construction’s—and PCRI’s—philosophy of working with small businesses, Colas provided opportunity for several subcontractors to work on their first Davis-Bacon project, something that will better position them for future opportunities.

“I have so enjoyed working face-to-face with the small and emerging contractors [on this project] and helping them understand the intricacies of Davis-Bacon,” said Gail Quail, the former Prevailing Wage Specialist at Portland Development Commission.  Referring to one particular subcontractor who returned to her for additional training, she added, “he is an emerging small business and I was also able to guide him to John Classen at PDC to assist with his ESB certification.”

The rehabilitation project provided yet another opportunity to support the community:  the jobsites provided excellent opportunities for women involved in Oregon Tradeswomen’s pre-apprenticeship training program to gain valuable real-world carpentry experience.  Dozens of Tradeswomen students worked on the projects, performing demolition work and building porches and fences.  In keeping with the project’s goals to use materials wisely and provide healthy, functional spaces for the residents, some particularly efficient and industrious Tradeswomen put their speed to good use by building planter boxes from remnants of the fencing material.  The Tradeswomen-built planter boxes are a great compliment to many colorful, water-efficient plants donated by Portland Nursery and Colas Construction.

New residents have already moved into several of the recently-rehabilitated units.  All 12 units which were part of the rehabilitation are reserved for individuals and families earning 60% or less of Area Median Family Income.  Rents range from $686 for a one-bedroom apartment to $958 for the four-bedroom house.  A list of currently available rentals is updated regularly on PCRI’s website.


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