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Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO JONATHAN HOUSE - Activists rallied in the vacant Northeast Portland lot in February 2014 to protest the lack of affordable housing.The City Council will review a $20 million plan to mitigate the impacts of gentrification in North and Northeast Portland on Wednesday.


The North/Northeast Neighborhood Housing Strategy was drafted by the Portland Housing Bureau after Mayor Charlie Hales committed the money during the fight over redeveloping a vacant block at the corner of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Alberta Street. Some community activists opposed the project that included a Trader Joe's grocery store but no affordable housing because many longtime residents have been driven out of the area by rising housing costs.

The money will come from the Interstate Urban Renewal Area that was created in part to help finance the Interstate MAX line. The plan the council will consider proposes spending the money as follows:

• $8 million to building between 70 and 140 permanently affordable rental homes.

• $5 million build up to 32 affordable homes and help up to 40 households purchase homes.

• $4 million for repairs to help up to 240 households stay in their homes.

• $3 million to purchase land for future housing.

The executive summary explains the need for the spending by saying, "Less than two decades ago, the neighborhoods that comprise inner North and Northeast Portland were home to the highest concentration of African American residents anywhere in the city — or in the state. Although decades of segregation had once confined them there, community will had also given rise to a vibrant cultural center, replete with African American businesses, churches, and other cultural institutions. City efforts during the 1990s to address the growing problems of crime and blight that had begun to consume the area brought about profound neighborhood transformations, but left many long- time residents with fewer and fewer affordable housing options. Within a decade, the percentage of African Americans in the total population of the area had fallen by more than half."

The executive summary also says the plan was developed through a community process that included "a series of community forums and other outreach efforts, more than 450 residents, 15 area faith leaders, and numerous community leaders generously shared their personal stories and those of their friends, family, and neighbors. They sent written notes and emails about their lived experience and what kinds of housing assistance would have the most impact."

Although Trader Joe's pulled out of the controversial project, it is moving forward again with a Natural Grocers store as the anchor tenant. There is still not housing planned on the site because a sewer line runs diagonally under it, making redevelopment difficult.

The hearing begins at 2 p.m. on Jan. 28. The full agenda item is at passthrough.fw-notify.net/download/126673/www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=50265&a=516277

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