Initiative succeeds at creating new homeowners in Lents

You’ll see why these folks are celebrating, when you read about the accomplishments of the Lents Homeownership Initiative …

Shaunna Sutcliffe of the Portland Water Bureau, Itzel Spehar from Portland Housing Center, and Joseph Portillo, a loan officer with Umpqua Bank, check out the buffet lunch.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Government and law enforcement officials agree that homeowners have more pride in their neighborhood than do renters, and so help increase the livability of a community.

The Lents Homeownership Initiative (LHI), part of ROSE Community Development, has successfully been turning renters into homeowners since 2005.

“Welcome to our quarterly LNI meeting,” the organization’s director, Amie Diffenauer, greeted us a few weeks ago. We’re celebrating the successes of the last three years of our program.”

LHI’s director, Amie Diffenauer, thanks the organization’s community, banking, city, and county partners for helping them achieve success.

Diffenauer explained that LHI is an association of more than 40 partners who are working toward increasing homeownership, and thus increasing the livability of the Lents neighborhood.

Sees results of the program
One of the 40 guests at the luncheon was Christine Rhoney, Portland Impact SUN site manager for Kelly Elementary School. She said she’s seen the beneficial results of renters becoming homeowners first-hand.

“At the Lents Homeownership Fair, held at our school this year,” Rhoney told us, “participants entered a drawing giving them the chance to win help with their down-payment. The family who won is a Kelly School family. The mother worked with us in the SUN program; her children go to SUN classes.”

This good fortune, Rhoney said, helped the family move into a home. “The result is stability for the families. Now that they have a place in which they can live, have pride in, and know they have been successful. The stability helps the kids thrive and be successful.”

Rosanne Lee, East Portland Crime Prevention Program Coordinator, agreed with Rhoney, saying “I’m a partner because homeownership creates a more stable community. People who own their homes are more invested in what goes in their communities. When people care, they work to help prevent – or report – crime.”

Nick Sauvie, director of ROSE Community Development shares some of the organization’s successes.

Luncheon banquet followed by awards
The formal meeting got underway after representatives helped themselves to a bountiful buffet supplied by Arleta Library Bakery Café on SE 72nd and by Russian Elegant Food European Bakery on SE Foster – with décor by flowers by Fleur de Lis on SE Division Street.

“We’re holding a celebration to cap off the third year of the Lents Homeownership Initiative,” explained Nick Sauvie, director of ROSE Community Development. “When one looks at the people who are coming together to support our mission of revitalizing outer Southeast Portland one home at a time – and when one sees the results of the program – it is impressive.”

LHI’s three-year goal was to create 175 homeowners; before the third year has ended, it has helped 181 families move into homes.

Diffenauer credits all of these housing professionals, gathered here for a special luncheon, for helping LHI exceed its goals.

Crime prevention accomplishments included closing six drug houses, sponsoring seven neighborhood watch trainings and holding seven problem-solving meetings.

Diffenauer and Sauvie stated that helping increase home values in Lents by 10% per year was also a goal. While they don’t take credit for market conditions, they do report a gain of nearly 16% in 2005, 12% in 2006 and a 10.5% lift in 2007 – compared to a 2.6% gain citywide.

A final measure of LNI’s success is neighborhood satisfaction. “Our goal was for a 10% increase in satisfaction,” Diffenauer said, “but by 2007, more than 60% of residents rated their neighborhood as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in overall livability.”

Want to learn more? See online, or contact Diffenauer at or by calling (503) 788-8052 ext 105.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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