Agency that turns renters into homeowners celebrates 15 years of success

See how an organization named ROSE helps to stabilize and improve the livability of Southeast Portland neighborhoods by helping families move into homes they’ll own ‚Ķ

Award winners were: Community Leader: Pastor Don Sieckmann, Great Day Fellowship Church; ROSE Volunteer: Board Member Virginia Petersen; Nick Sauvie, ROSE Executive Director; Business Partner: Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America; and, Community Partner: Sgt. Larry Graham SE Precinct.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While it may seem as if Portland city government tends to focus its housing efforts on building glamorous high-rise structures, a nonprofit organization in Southeast Portland has been rebuilding downtrodden neighborhoods like those in Lents, Brentwood-Darlington, Foster-Powell, and Mount Scott-Arleta.

On Nov. 9, ROSE Community Development Corp. celebrated the agency’s 15 years of providing affordable housing to outer Southeast Portland.

As guests filtered in, the agency’s executive director, Nick Sauvie told us that ROSE stands for “Revitalize Outer Southeast Portland”.

The event was held at an unlikely time and location ‚Äì 7:30 a.m., at OMSI. But, as breakfast was served, OMSI’s large meeting room soon filled to capacity with agency partners, volunteers and donors.

Nick Sauvie, executive director of ROSE Community Development Corp.,  addressing the breakfast gathering at OMSI.

ROSE Executive Director Nick Sauvie began the program, telling the group that their mission, providing affordable housing, is difficult work.

Secrets of success
“ROSE gives families a secure place to build their lives,” Sauvie began, “and to feel that they are part of a neighborhood. We bring resources from the broader community to improve life in SE neighborhoods.”

Sauvie said The Community Development Initiative looked at programs in 23 cities. “Successful programs, like ours, have several things in common. Their plans are flexible and simple; there is a deep level of commitment from the board and staff; their plans are holistic and comprehensive; and, they work with families in the context in which they live.”

Even at that early hour of 7:30 a.m., the meeting room at OMSI was filled to capacity with ROSE supporters at their annual meeting.

Over the last 40 years — he stated, as an example of their success — the homeownership rate has decreased in Lents to about 50%. ROSE brought 40 partners ‚Äì lenders, builders, government agencies ‚Äì together to increase homeownership there.

“We hold ourselves accountable to measurable outcomes. During the two years of the Lents Homeownership Initiative, our partners have helped turn 100 families into new homeowners. Homeowners care more about their area; get involved in programs like neighborhood watch, and improve safety and livability.”

Growing ROSE
Looking to the future, Sauvie said their five-year plan includes tripling the number of homeownership units. “Working with partners, we expect to put 250 homeowners into homes in Lents; we’ll add rental units. We’ll keep helping families to succeed; working with children in neighborhood schools, particularly Kelly School.”

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams tells why he feels a personal connection to the mission of ROSE.

Commissioner Adams testifies
After the awards were given, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams joined the celebration. He told the group, “We can choose many things in life, but we can’t choose our families. My family had difficult times in each of Oregon’s five major recessions. Because my family had help with housing, I understand how much a ‘hand up’ can help. I’m honored to be here, among people who have done so much for so many people in East Portland.”

Adams said he was concerned with gentrification. Pointing how the MAX Green Line sparked gentrification in North Portland, he expressed concerns that the new MAX Yellow Line might price families out of the outer Southeast Portland area. “This is one reason that the work ROSE is doing is so important. Families who become established homeowners will see their property appreciate.”

You can help
Find out the many ways you can contribute to your community by getting involved with ROSE Community Development. They’re office is located at 5215 SE Duke St. Call them at (503) 788-8052 or visit them online at www.rosecdc.org.

Nick Sauvie lets staffer Sue Pupo know how much she is appreciated by him and the organization with a presentation of flowers.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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