From Home Forward's press release:
Home Forward, in partnership with Urban League of Portland, celebrated the groundbreaking of the Fairfield Apartments in downtown Portland on June 29. Fairfield Apartments will be a permanent supportive housing development for people exiting chronic homelessness. The apartment community will preserve 75 units of deeply affordable housing on SW Harvey Milk Street in the heart of Portland’s historic LGBTQIA+ community. The project was made possible, in part, by a $2 million Congressional investment secured by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici. Photo credit: Home Forward.
“It is gratifying to see new life breathed into the Fairfield so that it can be used to serve Portlanders in desperate need of stable housing and services close by,” said Sen. Wyden who visited Fairfield Apartments earlier this week. “I was proud to secure federal funding for this apartment community with supportive services that are proven to support Oregonians getting a roof overhead, not just for one night but for the long haul.”
Fairfield Apartments will house up to 75 people exiting chronic homelessness who request culturally specific services within the Black/African American community. Preference will be given to women and people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Residents will pay no more than 30% of their income toward rent, with rental assistance provided by HUD.
“When families and individuals have a stable and safe place to call home and the right support, they can thrive,” said Rep. Bonamici. “I advocated for funding for the Fairfield to help fill a well-known gap in serving people in the Black and LGBTQI+ communities who are disproportionately represented in Oregon’s homeless population. Providing culturally specific services on site at the Fairfield Apartments will empower its residents and open new doors to opportunity.”
The renovated ground floor will have community space, supportive services offices and property management offices, as well as commercial space.The building’s existing residents have been relocated and have the option to return when Fairfield Apartments reopens. Construction is expected to finish by mid-2024 with units fully occupied in early 2025. Home Forward will serve as the building’s owner, property manager, and asset manager, and Urban League of Portland will provide permanent supportive services 24 hours a day. Prosper Portland will own and operate the commercial space.
“Our community faces an affordability crisis and we see it on our streets every day. We are thankful to our Congressional delegation for taking action to help, and we’re proud of the partnerships, particularly with the Urban League and the city of Portland, that will preserve affordable housing in the heart of downtown Portland,” said Home Forward CEO Ivory Mathews.
The City of Portland acquired Fairfield Apartments in 2010 and transferred ownership to Home Forward in 2023 to keep the apartments affordable and complete seismic upgrades and other rehabilitation.
“Right now, we need elected officials to commit to doing whatever is needed to preserve and build affordable housing for the most vulnerable in our community,” said Denetta Monk, Associate Vice President of Programs at Urban League of Portland. “Unhoused women in the Black community—including those who identify as LGBTQ+—face a triple threat of violence, sexism and racism, making living on the streets extraordinarily dangerous. Fairfield Apartments will be a place of refuge for this community and serve as a beacon of hope.”
Construction and design of Fairfield Apartments is being led by Walsh Construction and Peter Meijer Architect. In addition to the direct Congressional appropriation from HUD, other funding was made possible by Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), the voter-approved Supportive Housing Services funding from the Joint Office of Homeless Services, the City of Portland, U.S. Bank, and Key Bank.
From left: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Home Forward CEO and CLPHA Board Member Ivory Mathews, and Urban League of Portland Associate Vice President of Programs Denetta Monk. Photo credit: Home Forward.
Fairfield Apartments at a glance:
- Nine studios and 66 single room occupancies (SROs)
- Shared kitchen and bathrooms
- Community room with computer and wifi access, laundry facilities, bike storage and a common kitchen and pantry
- On-site property management and client-centered supportive services
- Centrally located in downtown Portland
- Public transit, including the MAX line and bus stops, within walking distance
- Grocery store and medical care within walking distance
- Culturally responsive tenant education
- Community kitchen stocked with food from Oregon Food Bank
“The Fairfield Apartments demonstrate our continued commitment to helping address Portland's housing crisis," said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. "As Portlanders, we value what makes us different and what brings us together. The story of Fairfield Apartments stands as a reminder not only of the preservation of this historic building, but also the important contribution that the LGBTQ+ community has made to downtown Portland."