Speeches galore highlight opening of Glenfair’s ‘The Aurora’

INCLUDES TOUR VIDEO | See what’s now rising on the spot in outer East Portland where the infamous, now-shuttered strip-club-turned-homeless-shelter once stood …

Now in the Rosewood District, The Aurora is open, serving low income people and “families with children transitioning out of homelessness”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

No ribbons were cut, but a multitude of speeches marked the opening of The Aurora – an “affordable rental” apartment complex in the Rosewood district at 16025 SE Stark Street on the afternoon of October 5th.

A property with colorful history

Many longtime outer East Portlanders, before their area was annexed into the City of Portland, have fond memories of dining and drinking at this building when it was called The Woodshed restaurant.

On the land where The Aurora was constructed over the past year or so, originally stood the distinctive shake-shingled A-frame “crooked roof” Woodshed Restaurant, built in 1975.

After this establishment failed and closed down, some time later it became the Black Cauldron, promoting itself as a “pagan, vegan gentleman’s club”. Maybe paganism isn’t mainstream enough to draw a crowd, because it went on to close down also.

Many folk celebrated this building being turned into a temporary homeless shelter, in February, 2016.

So after that, Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed in October 2015 to help Human Solutions (now, recently renamed ‘Our Just Future’) buy and renovate that building into the county’s first year-’round, 24-hour family shelter. Human Solutions reportedly paid $950,000 for the property in 2015; Multnomah County provided a $300,000 loan, and about $400,000 grant for renovations. The shelter was dedicated on February 1, 2016.

>> To read “East Portland strip club turns into Family Center  CLICK HERE.

By the fall of that year, shelter workers and residents were complaining of a leaking roof that caused drywall to crumble, followed by natural gas leaks and vermin infestations – and, eventually, major portions of the shake-shingle roof were covered with a tarp, itself costing $13,000.

At the temporary homeless shelter’s dedication in 2016, then Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury embraces Human Solutions’ (née “Our Just Future”) then-new Executive Director Andy Miller.

Two years after it opened – on February 8, 2018 – then Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury conceded that the shelter was “suspending operations”, and ordered a general review of all shelter facilities in the family system managed by the Portland Joint Office of Homeless Services.

Eventually, what was left of the “shack” was demolished. The property sat fenced and vacant for quite a while, as Our Just Future (OJF) and its contractors slogged through the City of Portland’s permitting process. Construction started in 2021, and concluded last spring.

Parade of nine of presenters ceremonially pontificate

Welcoming everyone to the grand opening of The Aurora is OJF Executive Director Andy Miller.

At the October 5th ceremony, held outdoors in the patio area and small playground behind the towering structure, OJF Executive Director Andy Miller welcomed dignitaries and elected officials, pointing out that the latest project was made possible by the Portland Housing Bond.

This tax provided the core funding to redevelop what he called a “permanent solution for families experiencing homelessness our community needs,” Miller said.

Multnomah County Commission Chair Jessica Vega Pederson extols the work being done by county agencies.

Another in the long list of speakers that day was Multnomah County Commission Chair Jessica Vega Pederson. She declined to speak separately with East Portland News at the event; however, in her prepared speech, Vega Pederson praised the new facility: “This means that a family living in a van, camper van, or car – many of us know what this looks like, because these families are parking long-term on our neighborhood streets and your our parks – [may now find housing].

“We know that these families are struggling; they’re trying to keep themselves invisible and moving forward despite great hardships. They’re keeping their kids in school, engaged, and supported. They’re making ends meet however they can, and doing their best to keep their families from the ultimate hardship, which would be to live unsheltered,” Vega Pederson went on. “These are the people that Our Just Future are helping, here at The Aurora.”

Oregon State Representative House District 47 Andrea Valderrama tells what she’s learned from being an Our Just Future Board Member.

Another speaker, and an acknowledged Board Member of OJF, Oregon State Representative of District 47 Andrea Valderrama (D), also spoke.

“Being a Board Member of this organization, is informative for me as a policymaker, in the legislature when we were having conversations about what communities need … I think the work of Our Just Future is [a result] of that learning. [And now,] the real work is happening for affordable housing and communities here in Oregon.”

Before the tour commenced, those at the ceremony also heard speeches from:

  1. Michael Buonocore, Interim Director, Portland Housing Bureau
  2. Traci Manning, Executive Director, Housing Development Center
  3. Dan Field, Director, Joint Office of Homeless Services
  4. Roberto Franco, Assistant Director of Rental Housing Resources and Development · Oregon Housing and Community Services Department
  5. Patricia Rojas, Regional Housing Director, METRO
  6. Bryan Guiney, Director, Oregon Field Office, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Guests get a look inside the party/meeting room at The Aurora.

After the speakers had all concluded, the crowd present was invited to proceed to a quick tour of the facility’s laundry room, party room, and a sample apartment.

Go on a tour of this housing complex by way of our exclusive video:

93 “affordable” units at the The Aurora proved to be a mix of one- two- and three-bedroom apartments for people whose incomes are 30% and 60% below the area median – a figure that is set annually by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

And, it includes 16 “permanent supportive housing units” designed for “families with children transitioning out of homelessness”.

To learn more about Our Just Future, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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