Portland Community Reinvestment Initiative Inc. has come up with a plan to bring African-Americans families back to North and Northeast Portland.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit community development corporation announced the completion of Pathway 1000, a displacement mitigation plan and strategy that will create 1,000 residences for the community. Of those homes, 800 will be sold to new homeowners in an attempt to create generational wealth for Portland’s black community.
Maxine Fitzpatrick, executive director of PCRI, said the nonprofit was created 25 years ago in response to redlining and predatory loans.
Fitzpatrick said massive displacement of the community started in 2000 after the approval of the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area, which cost tens of millions of dollars. The project promised to expand housing options, create wealth and revitalize the area.
The African-American community who lived in the area was skeptical of the revitalization plan.
“Developers and community developers understand what happens when you go into a very low-income community and invest that kind of capital,” Fitzpatrick said. “What the potential is thereafter. So they just took advantage of it.”
The renewal project was part of the expansion of TriMet’s MAX yellow line. The funding was awarded by the federal government, but Portland also had to provide matching dollars. “So creating another urban renewal district, I guess they felt was the best way to make that happen,” Fitzpatrick said.
PCRI’s project will raise and invest $300 million over the next 10 years. The organization plans to leverage its own portfolio while it raises money to fund the project. Very little funding will be provided by the government to limit dependence.
The Pathway homes are affordable housing, which by federal standards means households that earn 80 percent or less of the area’s median income.
Prior to the urban renewal project, typical homes in the area sold for less than $50,000. Today, they start around $400,000.
“[Planners] began to talk to the Northeast Portland residents and [the residents] of course were concerned because they had been displaced already four times, just at will by the city,” Fitzpatrick said.
According to PCRI, more than 16,000 individuals were displaced between 2000 and 2017.
PCRI has already built homes on Northeast Sixth Avenue and Ainsworth Street, and Fitzpatrick said you can’t tell the difference. The homes are made with quality materials and the goal is for families to pass them down from generation to generation.
PCRI’s houses range in cost from $180,000 to $230,000.
“They are incredible. We were featured in Fine Homebuilding magazine and the caption was: 'How to build quality housing on an affordable budget,'” Fitzpatrick said.
PCRI will be host a grand opening of their new properties in late August.
Sharing America: A Public Radio Collaboration
Erica Morrison is part of the public radio collaborative “Sharing America,” covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This new initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in the Northwest and Hartford, Connecticut, St. Louis and Kansas City. You can find more "Sharing America" coverage here.