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Native American Youth & Family Center to open 56 permanently affordable units in the Cully neighborhood this December.

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Construction workers have nearly completed the new affordable housing project Mamook Tokatee in Northeast Portland's Cully neighborhood. A $21-million Northeast Portland apartment project plans to open the state's first affordable housing development, mostly reserved for Native Americans and artists, by the end of the year.

Mamook Tokatee — the phrase means "make beautiful" in the Chinook language — will offer 56 permanently affordable units in the city's Cully neighborhood beginning in December, according to the nonprofit Native American Youth & Family Center.

The 0.41-acre infill project at 4610 N.E. 42nd Ave. replaces the parking lot of Delphina's Bakery near Going Street. Financing was provided primarily through Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

"We are all focused on creating an aspirational community of residents who are engaged in sharing cultural art and cultural background and knowledge with one another, and are doing so in an independent living community that offers many services nearby," said Keith Ferrante, NAYA's housing development project manager.

As of October, crews with general contractor LMC Construction are scurrying to detail the interior units and finish installing the facade for the four-story project, which is built in the modern style with a concrete ground floor and stick framing above.

Projected rents run from $475 a month for a one-bedroom flat — to as low as $685 monthly for a three-bedroom unit — for residents making 30% of the area median income. The rent will be higher depending on household size and for those earning closer to 60% AMI, topping out at $1,600 a month for three bedrooms. Layouts range from 1,100 square feet to 2,370 square feet.

The unit mix includes six studios, 28 one-bedroom flats, seven two-bedroom units, 10 units with three bedrooms and five artist lofts, according to Community Development Partners.

The project has reserved 20 units for Native Americans due to the sovereign policy of the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians, who chipped in funding via a $1 million Housing and Urban Development block grant. Another five to 10 units will be set aside for artists, says Ferrante.

The new residents won't be far from their neighbors. NAYA's 11-acre family campus is located nearby on Northeast Columbia Boulevard. The organization developed Nesika Illahee, another 59-unit affordable housing project, farther down on 42nd, and workers have already poured the concrete podium for the 50-unit Hayu Tilixam, a short jog away near 60th Avenue and Prescott Street.

Amenities will include a 1,000-square-foot ground floor art exhibition space, sculpture courtyard, large painted murals and eight parking spots reserved for elders and people with disabilities. Artists Lillian Pitt, Derek No-Sun Brown, Toma Villa and Greg A. Robinson will adorn the property.

"The ability to reflect culture through art has long been revered by Native people traditionally," said NAYA Executive Director Paul Lumley. "NAYA is elated to provide our living culture keepers an affordable place to live and a cultural community to thrive within."

Zane Sparling
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