New ‘affordable housing’ comes to Gateway area

Find out why and how it was built. And, take a look inside one of the units inside a building so many have seen from the outside, constructed on NE Glisan Street near I-205 …

Many who have driven west on NE Glisan Street have watched this lot, as a broken down building was transformed into new, affordable Human Solutions housing units.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was a big day for Ride Connection – but an even more meaningful day for Human Solutions, as they officially opened Glisan Commons.

Human Solutions Executive Director Jean DeMaster set the stage for the February 13 event as it was getting underway.

Before the opening ceremony, Community Works Project Business Services Coordinator Deborah Higa, representing the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, talks with Human Solutions Executive Director Jean DeMaster.

“It’s the grand opening of Glisan Commons, which constitutes 67 affordable apartment units for workforce housing in outer East Portland,” DeMaster told East Portland News.

Human Solutions acquired the property several years ago, DeMaster said. “We’ve been working on the site since about 2006. We ran a community store here, but the building was so run down, we couldn’t keep using it. Eventually that building was torn down, and we were determined to make better use of this space.”

Here’s a look at Glisan Commons, as seen from the courtyard.

Pointing to the building behind her, DeMaster said the affordable housing it offers is critically needed in the area.

“It’s because there is no place for low income people to live; there are no vacancies. Human Solutions has 702 units, and we’ve had no vacancies in all of our units.  That’s the same for many landlords in the area.”

Human Solutions Chair Carla Piluso welcomes guests to the grand opening ceremony.

Starting off the official grand opening ceremony for Glisan Commons was retired Gresham Police Chief, and Human Solutions Chair Carla Piluso.

One by one, Piluso recognized many people in the audience who participated in the project – from governmental leaders to building contractors.

Glisan Commons helps fulfill “un-kept aspirations” for the Gateway area, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman says.

“It’s no secret that there have been big challenges toward fulfilling the promise of the Gateway area,” began Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, as he stepped to the microphone.

“Now, as much as anytime in the history of City of Portland, it is important that we have appropriate housing. This is the mission of the Portland Housing Bureau, which provided a little over $2 million for this project.

“What is so great about this project is, not only does it bring many affordable housing units, it is also critically important that it also brings in jobs,” Saltzman added. “It’s a great collaboration, and a testiment to the partners involved with this project.”

A sizable crowd of supporters gather, as they learn about the Ride Connection “connection” to Glisan Commons.

Ride Connection Executive Director Elaine Wells says they’ll soon be moving their organization from NE 19th Avenue near Irving Street out to the Gateway District.

After her introduction, Ride Connection Executive Director Elaine Wells exclaimed, “This is really an exciting day for all of us. It has been a long time in coming.”

After Ride Connection builds out the offices on the ground floor level of Glisan Commons, the nonprofit organization will be moving their 45 employees here, to the outer East Portland area.

“[This space] will allow us to focus, wholeheartedly, on our mission, which is to link accessible responsive transportation to community need,” Wells said. “It will be a friendly, welcoming center, as you can see from looking in from outside – welcoming for people to come in and learn about all of the transportation options that are available to them in their community.”

Importantly, she added, “Ride Connection will be moving into Glisan Commons debt free, thanks to the partners in this project.”

Many people join Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman to inspect one of the new Glisan Commons units.

While taking a tour through one of the new units with Commissioner Saltzman, East Portland News asked about his comment regarding fulfilling promises for improving the Gateway area.

“This is a good step forward in helping to build the community,” Saltzman replied. “It’s a great community to start with, but I think everyone in Gateway wants to see more economic opportunities and housing opportunities. This project is doing both.”

With gold shovels in hand, REACH Community Development Corporation and its building partners prepare to break ground for Glisan Commons Phase II, which will provide additional senior housing units.

When the formal remarks concluded, REACH Community Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Dan Valliere asked that partners of their organization join them in the back of the courtyard.

“We’re breaking ground for Glisan Commons Phase II,” Valliere said. “It will feature 60 units of low-income senior housing. Amenities will include generous outdoor space, and building designs specifically [intended] to help seniors ‘age in place’.”

In about a year, there will be another grand opening ceremony – this time for the Phase II building, Valliere added – as he donned a hard hat and grabbed a shovel.


© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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