Horner takes helm at key Portland housing nonprofit
The architecture of a crucial affordable housing nonprofit is changing — with a new leader overseeing their ambitious plans to create 1,000 living units for those pushed out of North Portland.
"They're big high heels to step into," Horner said in an interview. "Maxine did some very heavy lifting for the affordable housing community, and more specifically to the African American community."
Horner will draw on nearly two decades of experience working up the ranks in Oxnard, California, where she primarily led economic development and community redevelopment projects at City Hall. Her priorities at Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives — also known as PCRI — include hiring a housing development team and financial director, as well as rolling out a new vision plan in 2020.
Civic leadership runs in the family; her father was mayor of Thousand Oaks, California, and a vice president at Northrop Grumman.
"My upbringing has really prepared me for such a big challenge," Horner said.
Now, she will oversee the PCRI portfolio of more than 700 units, including single-family homes, small multifamily complexes and larger apartment housing, as well as the organization's Pathway 1000 plan, which hopes to raise and invest $300 million over 10 years. About 800 of the 1,000 units are expected to be ownership opportunities for the residents.
"The implementation plan really speaks to a lot of infill projects, and the land in Portland is quite expensive," Horner said. "I'm working with my staff to look at the parcels that we have available in our own pipeline of development, to see which ones we can really activate first."
PCRI's latest development — the 69-unit, four-story King + Parks Apartments at the corner of Rosa Parks Way and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — is set to open in June. Portland Housing Bureau provided the land and $5.7 million of the total $28 million cost.
King + Parks and a similar project completed in late 2018, the Beatrice Morrow Cannady apartments, are part of the city's North/Northeast Preference Policy designed to return residents with historical ties to the area that were severed by displacement and gentrification.
But PCRI and the Portland Housing Bureau butted heads over the nonprofit's use of an internal wait list to fill vacant flats, which Willamette Week reported could be a violation of federal fair housing laws.
The 80-unit Beatrice Morrow Cannady complex sat empty during the scuffle, but Horner said the apartments were fully leased as of August of last year, and letters of intent have been received for the ground-floor commercial spaces.
The new executive director said she's still researching the preference policy, but wants to make sure properties are leased quickly and collaboratively.
"It's an impact for people who are desperately looking to get into housing," she said, "but I am working with the Portland Housing Bureau to work through some of those issues."
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