The craft brew-loving cities of Austin, Texas; Fort Collins, Colorado; Denver and Durham, North Carolina, have done it. Now it's Portland's turn: Tap into the power of the beer community to literally build a house.
It's called the House That Beer Built. The Habitat for Humanity project kicked off earlier this year, harnessing a network of local brewers, brewing enthusiasts and thousands of volunteers.
"The brewing community already does a lot to give back; it's just kind of tapping into that energy," says Cassandra Punnett, a volunteer coordinator for the Portland Metro East chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
The breweries and other businesses pledge to raise $75,000 to fully sponsor a home for a Portland family.
So far, 16 local brewers are partners in the building of 15 affordable homes in Northeast Portland's Cully neighborhood. It's scheduled to start construction in late fall and open next summer.
It's all happening at Cully Commons, the brand-new development in Cully's diverse neighborhood. The homes will have two to five bedrooms each.
If building a house sounds like a lot of work, it is — but Habitat's program teaches you along the way, no experience necessary. Volunteers age 16 and up are welcome to pitch in.
"People come in and sometimes hit their first nail," Punnett says. "It's a way to learn new skills and feel connected to the communty."
So how is the project funded?
The recent Oregon Brewers Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in July was a major fundraiser, donating $10,000 to the cause.
The Cheers to Belgian Beers festival in June is another donor, contributing a dollar from each ticket package. The funds let folks move into their new homes at a subsidized cost.
Participants, so far, include Breakside Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Migration Brewing Co., Baerlic Beer Company, McMenamins, Gigantic Brewing Company, Leikam Brewing, Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewing, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales, Von Ebert Brewing, Rogue Ales, Ram Restaurant & Brewing, Crosby Hops Farm and the Oregon Brewers Festival.
Cully Commons is one of two Habitat build sites underway; the other is at Brooklyn Pines in Southeast Portland, where 10 homes are wrapping up in a year.
Last year, about 2,200 volunteers participated.
For more info, and to sign up to help, visit www.habitatportlandmetro.org/get-involved/events/house-that-beer-built.