By Michael French | CNA Media Team
As one answer to a shortage of affordable housing in Portland, redevelopment of a public housing community in Concordia will provide more homes to income-qualified families by 2024.
Dekum Court, located at Saratoga Street near Columbia Boulevard, is being reimagined with community input.
To accommodate more families on the five-acre parcel that now includes just 40 units, the new structures will offer an additional 160 units—ultimately housing about 585 individuals in apartments ranging from studios to four- bedroom units.
Built in 1972, the original structures are plagued by moisture and suspected mold, and they contain damaged asbestos-containing materials. Applications for homes at Dekum Court exceed available units, and the two- and three bedroom units don’t accommodate singles and larger families.
Home Forward, the agency that oversees public housing in Multnomah County, owns and operates Dekum Court and is managing the $66.5 million redevelopment.
The majority of current Dekum Court residents identify as Latinx or Black/African American. Informed by Portland’s history of gentrification and displacement, Home Forward is managing the redevelopment with sensitivity to impacts on current residents and the neighborhood.
“We want to think about how we can make sure people who have been living in north and northeast Portland for a long time – and who may be at risk because of the market forces at work – can stay and keep their connections to their schools, their places of worship, their friends and families,” said Jonathan Trutt, Home Forward development director.
For the added units, Home Forward will reach out to culturally-specific organizations such as NAYA, Hacienda, SelfEnhancement Inc. and Urban League to get the word out. To qualify, applicants must meet requirements based on family size and household income.
A community advisory committee includes opportunities for residents and community members to provide input into issues related to support services, design and construction. John McSherry represents the Concordia Neighborhood Association on that committee.
To minimize disruption to families currently living at the complex, they will move into their new homes before the rest of the complex is redeveloped.
Phase 1 to replace at least 40 units to house current Dekum Court residents will start next summer, for completion by autumn 2022.
Phase 2 includes the demolition of the previous buildings and new construction of 160 new apartments by spring 2024.
Michael French is grateful to live on 28th Avenue in Concordia, a place where neighbors talk to each other and he can get most places on foot, by bike or transit. Contact him at MFrench96@ gmail.com.