Budding ROSE ‘East Portland Enhancement Project’ introduced

See why they’re hopeful that this seedling concept will sprout and grow in 2010, as did the Lents Homeownership Initiative. Find out what it’s all about – and how you can participate – right here …

ROSE Community Development Corp. Executive Director Nick Sauvie explains how the “East Portland Enhancement Project” can reduce poverty in outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
ROSE (“Revitalize Outer South East”) Community Development Corp. has become known for providing quality low-income housing, as well as encouraging homeownership by way of the Lents Homeownership Initiative (LHI).

And now, ROSE has kicked off the “East Portland Enhancement Project” (they call it “EP2”).

“This isn’t so much an expansion of the Lents Homeownership Initiative,” Sauvie told us, “as it is more of an evolution. We are using the same kind of ‘tools’ to take on more complicated, interrelated issues. It’s really clear that family issues, and economic issues, are interrelated. Especially with the way the economy is these days, it’s even more important that we are effective in our efforts to revitalize the area.”

Nick Sauvie tells talks about EP2’s primary themes of connections, health and jobs.

Sauvie said the “tools” he referred to are the skills ROSE learned in order to recruit and motivate a relatively large pool of agencies, companies, and organizations to help LHI participants go from being renters to being homeowners.

“This is more than just Rose Community Development. It’s the dozens of organizations represented in the room today, all working together. We learned through LHI that we can get a lot more done by working together than by working individually.”

During the luncheon, held at the David Douglas Schools South Powellhurst Building on SE 122nd Avenue, Sauvie told the participants that EP2 is centered on three themes: Strong connections, healthy families, and economic opportunities.

Representatives from many community and business organizations attended the EE2 kickoff luncheon meeting.

Sauvie told representatives from David Douglas School District, Proud Ground, REACH, Oregon State House District 47, Coalition for a Livable Future, Community Health Partnership, Zenger Farm, Portland Development Commission, Portland Housing Bureau, EXIT Realty, Golf Savings Bank, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and others in attendance, that EP2 plans to develop a series of workshops covering four categories of need:

  1. Healthy families – “We came up with the concept, ‘1,000 Healthy Habits’. A zillion things go along with this, including exercise, and access to a good grocery store and good quality food, and skills around preparing food.”
  2. Starting and running a small business – “We know how to help renters become homeowners. But [Portland City] zoning does not lend itself to starting businesses. We’ve already started working with our tenants to help them start micro-businesses. One of our goals is to create opportunities for 100 micro-businesses or new jobs in this area.”
  3. Making strong connections – “This is the stuff of social science. John McKnight and his colleagues call Asset-Based Community Development. Healthy neighborhoods have stronger connections among the people who live there – and among the residents and their business districts, nonprofit organizations, and churches. That’s why it’s exciting for me to be in this room: The more people we have on-board, the greater an impact EP2 will have building social capital.”
  4. Increasing the level of resident satisfaction – “Right now, out of 90 Portland neighborhoods, the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood is at the bottom of the list when it comes to residents’ satisfaction. Our goal, within a couple years, is to have more than 60% of people in Powellhurst-Gilbert grade their neighborhood as good or very good.  District-wide, there is a big gap in resident neighborhood satisfaction among neighborhoods east of 82nd Avenue of Roses and west of SE 82nd Avenue.”

City Planner Barry Manning says his bureau is looking for ways to help – and to remove barriers to the betterment of outer East Portland neighborhoods.

City’s role in building better neighborhoods
Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Barry Manning said the City of Portland continues to work on development design and “connectivity” issues in outer East Portland.

“We’re looking to see which regulations might help, or impede, some of the EP2 goals,” Manning to the group. “We’re looking at some of those issues, from a land development standpoint. Regarding ‘connectivity’, we’re looking at how we can help support people getting around this neighborhood in a better fashion by setting recommendations and advocating for city actions. We’re looking at what government can do to help productivity.”

Amie Diffenauer, the spearhead of the ROSE LHI effort, asks attendees to show their support for EP2.

Makes appeal for support
ROSE community organizer Amie Diffenauer explained that ROSE plans to officially roll out EP1 in January 2010, and then to take quarterly measurements. “We’re going to be working here for some period of time, and refining our program here in Powellhurst-Gilbert, before we decide to move on to other areas of outer East Portland.”

Diffenauer encouraged everyone in attendance ad the event to sign up to participate.

Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association Chair Mark White listens to concerns expressed about outer East Portland issues.

Neighborhood leader says plan gives him optimism
The newly-minted “Emerging Community Leader” Spirit of Portland Award winner, Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association Chair Mark White, told us after the meeting that he’s enthusiastic about the EP2 program.

“It’s important for people to understand that the changes that have come to the neighborhood haven’t all been good,” White began. “The high amount of poverty both in outer East Portland – and in our neighborhood – is now unprecedented.”

White stated that there are at least 1,000 “Section 8” households there. “The number of tax-exempt properties is profound. The transportation infrastructure is almost nonexistent; sidewalks are few.  Every single bus line on SE Division Street – our entire neighborhood – are all infrequent bus lines.”

What gives him optimism, White added, is the concerted efforts of many organizations to improve outer East Portland. “These include the East Portland Enhancement Project – the East Portland Action Plan is another component – and connections people are making between these groups and the 122nd Avenue Enhancement Study. Also, our neighborhood association has the support of the Midway Business Association. It’s encouraging to see nonprofit organizations connecting with each other, creating a safety net – while we’re establishing more substantial solutions.”

Nick Sauvie says EE2 has the support of community leaders such as Annette Mattson, of Portland General Electric and also a David Douglas School Board, and Matthew Roma, Manager of Standard TV & Appliance on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Supporters chime in
Annette Mattson, who is with Portland General Electric and is also a David Douglas School Board member, said the school district is will continue to partner with ROSE as it has in the past.

“We’re involved because ROSE is working to improve the community in which our students live,” Mattson told us. “As the community prospers, so do our children.  Home ownership is good for kids. When kids have a stable place to call home, research shows that they do better academically.”

Standard TV and Appliance has been on board with ROSE for years, lending both moral and fiscal support – they paid for the Pizza Baron luncheon the group enjoyed that day – and they have given space for meetings in their own training center.

Matthew Roma, Manager of the store’s SE 82nd Avenue of Roses location, explained why: “The company started in southeast Portland; it certainly is in our best interest to help develop the community. Both our customers and workforce live in the East Portland area. And, one of the founding principles of our company has always been to give back to our community in meaningful ways.”

To learn how you too can help ROSE give families a secure place to build lives, raise children, and feel like part of the neighborhood, visit their website; CLICK HERE to visit it – or, call them at call (503) 788-8052.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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