Purpose in Action – Winter 2021

Words by Ernesto Fonseca, Ph

 

I woke up January 1st with so much hope for the year ahead.  Our all-staff Zoom meeting just a few days into the new year was filled with warmth as staff reunited after the holidays, sharing tremendous outcomes from three months of focused work to deliver COVID-19 relief resources to our community.

Almost immediately, our thoughts and time were diverted to national political unrest, COVID infections and death rates rising, vaccine distribution slow to reach our communities so deeply impacted by the pandemic, and a fire at Clara Vista that displaced eight families who called our community home.

Fortunately, the words of the inspiring National Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman delivered at the inauguration of President Joe Biden ring in our ears:

“Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”*

 

Our hope was re-ignited by the community who immediately responded to support Hacienda and the families who lost their homes at Clara Vista.  Hundreds of community members from neighborhood schools, churches, and businesses dropped off clothes, food, toiletries, money and gift cards to help their neighbors in need.

“For there is always light.”*

2021 will not be easy, but Hacienda staff are “brave enough to see the light, and we are brave enough to be it.”  I look forward to our work ahead this year. We will make progress on the long road to meeting the affordable housing needs of our community.  We will return to our schools, restaurants and work places.  We will uplift the Latino and low-income families and individuals we serve and support their dreams. And we will do this all along together and in partnership with you.

Muchas gracias,

 

Ernesto Fonseca, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

*The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

 Hacienda to launch Small Homes Northwest Demonstration Project

Racial and economic disparities in access to safe, affordable housing existed long before COVID-19, and the pandemic has only widened these divides. In the new year, Hacienda will pilot a new solution, Small Homes Northwest (SHNW). SHNW is a program to build small backyard homes—also called accessory dwelling units (ADU) or casitas—as affordable rentals. We aim to build up to four energy-efficient casitas in Portland neighborhoods at risk of gentrification, in partnership with moderate-income homeowners and with targeted outreach to homeowners of color. The casitas will be regulated affordable rentals for a period of 10 years, built at a fraction of the public cost of a typical affordable apartment.

Here’s why we are so excited about this approach – SHNW benefits both homeowners and renters. Right now, ADU’s are primarily built by people with wealth for long-term investment. Our goal is to work with moderate-income homeowners in quickly gentrifying neighborhoods for whom an affordable rental casita in their backyard can raise their property value and generate income while also increasing the stock of affordable rental units for low-income individuals and small families. The program is a natural complement to Hacienda’s ongoing work to build affordable housing and support stable homeownership.

The SHNW pilot project is funded by Meyer Memorial Trust and resources secured by Verde. Hacienda is seeking Legislative support in 2021 to expand the demonstration in and outside of Portland. We received strong support in the last Legislative session for this pilot (House Bill 4015), but it was one of the many bills that did not get final approval due to the walkout. The bill is being re-introduced in the 2021 session by Representative Meek, and is endorsed by the Oregon Housing Alliance.

The demonstration project aims to “test run” this innovative model, work out the kinks, and pave the way for an effective affordable housing tool that can be utilized in communities large and small across the state.


 Economic opportunity is supporting families at risk of losing their homes

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, several community members are experiencing hardships that have set them back significantly financially. Many of them have reached out to us for guidance on resources such as mortgage and utility assistance, mediation programs, and forbearance plans to help them stay afloat after a loss of employment or reduction in hours. In response, our Economic Opportunity Department has partnered with state and city institutions to provide aid for homeowners in danger of losing their home. We also continue to offer default avoidance counseling for homeowners in need of support negotiating with their mortgage companies.

A person who has benefited from our default prevention program is Erika. Prior to working with us, this client was facing foreclosure due to a financial hardship caused by medical crisis in her immediate family. Difficulties negotiating with their mortgage company and COVID-19 worsened their situation. Unfortunately, several household members contracted the virus and stopped contributing to paying the mortgage. Receiving assistance from our agency during the COVID-19 pandemic was essential for our client because their delinquency grew rapidly due to loss of income. Our client became the only person in her household with income to pay the mortgage. The counseling we provided assisted this client in navigating the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Program (OFA) and negotiating with their lender in order to maintain their housing.

After receiving assistance from our agency, our client is in a much more stable situation. They let us know they were able to make their January payment and their household has begun to contribute again with utility bills. They are feeling positive about their situation going forward.

We encourage all community members struggling to pay their mortgages to contact our department. Programs like the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Program (OFA), Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI), and our default prevention counseling have helped many Oregonians stay in their homes.

For information about our programs, email home@haciendacdc.org or call (503) 961-6432.


 Mercado is reducing the impact of the pandemic on our small business community

The Mercado Empresarios team has been working hard to reduce the impact of the pandemic on our small business community.  Thanks in part to the last round of Small Business Relief Funds from Prosper Portland, we opened an application process in late October 2020 and funds were distributed in November 2020, Hacienda CDC was able to support 39 entrepreneurs with $270,000 in small business relief grants. Businesses shared in applications they are planning to use grant funds to purchase inventory, invest in digital marketing and online sales channels, paying rent and more.

Thanks in part to a partnership with Business Oregon, our Mercado Empresarios program has been able to provide over 50 entrepreneurs with free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to date. We are still accepting applications, if you know of any entrepreneur that can benefit from free PPE, have them sign up here. We will accept applications online until supplies run out and all supplies will be picked up by appointment at Portland Mercado Property Management office.

A great way to support our Portland Mercado entrepreneurs is our 3rd annual Portland Mercado Soup Festival! Due to COVID-19, the best way to participate is a family night-in with delicious soups from Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Cuba and Venezuela. Call ahead to place your order and make sure to try all of the soups before they run out, but don’t worry, the festival will run February 6, 7, 13, 14 until supplies run out. See below for details and follow us on social media @Portlandmercado to get some behind the scenes looks of the chefs preparing for the festival.

Our longest running program, Café y Pláticas is celebrating its 46th consecutive month. February’s topic is Exporting for small business. Program is in Spanish with simultaneous English translation. Register here for the meeting details.

Do you know of an entrepreneur looking for an affordable, accessible commercial kitchen to launch or grow their food business? Our Mercado Cocina is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are conducting virtual tours for interested individuals. Tours can be conducted in English and Spanish. Sign up today and join the Portland Mercado community in this vibrant, fully licensed kitchen!


 Youth & Family Services supporting our community with needed resources

Youth and Family Services staff have been busy in the last three months helping hundreds of households fill out a variety of applications for rent, household or small business assistance.  Our team was happy to provide bilingual/bicultural outreach and support. We’ve also partnered with the Oregon Health Authority to inform our community about all things COVID-19. Stay tuned for information about our upcoming virtual resident meetings and social media posts with state and county health updates.

A recent survey of Hacienda residents found that 65% of the families we serve were accessing the internet only through a smartphone. Our Innovation Labs team worked tirelessly in December to deliver over 220 laptops, hotspots and internet assistance cards to families to ensure they have the technology and connectivity they need to access school, work and essential resources. Our goal is to distribute another 200 device packages this spring. The Innovation Labs team also recently enrolled 133 new digital students in our programming. We’re grateful to be supporting our families as they navigate an increasingly digital world.

We’re currently accepting new clients in our Portland Niños and SUN Youth Advocacy programs! Clients for both programs must identify as Latino/Hispanic. All services are being provided virtually.

Interested in our Portland Niños Early Childhood Program?
Please contact Pilar Palos at 503-961-6414 to leave a message with your name, phone number, and zip code and we will connect you with our Educators!

Interested in SUN Youth Advocacy and have a middle school student at George Middle School? Please contact Jorge Alvarado at 503-459-3894.


Thank you to our Donors!

Hundreds of neighbors far and near have jumped in to donate clothes, household items, cash, and gift cards in the last few weeks to support the families displaced by the fire at Clara Vista. We are truly moved at the response and appreciate your support as we help families re-establish their households.

338 Give!Guide Donors donated over $45,000 to Hacienda CDC in November and December. Thank you to all of our donors, including Brad Miller and The Winquist Family who generously matched $15,000 in gifts collectively, and to our corporate Partners for providing great incentives: New Seasons MarketNossa Familia CoffeeSalt & Straw and Vincent Wine Company!