SEI and CDP break ground on innovative community for displaced and longtime residents of N/NE Portland

PORTLAND, Ore., November 14, 2022: Co-developed by Self-Enhancement, Inc. (SEI) and Community Development Partners (CDP), 5020 N. Interstate, a 63-unit apartment community taking shape in Portland’s Overlook neighborhood, will be much more than new apartments when it opens in late 2023. The new community is part of SEI’s recent expansion into affordable housing; offers an innovative model combining high-quality rental housing with on-site services; and is part of a larger effort by partners SEI and CDP to renew a visible, thriving Black presence in North and Northeast Portland.

A groundbreaking ceremony emceed by longtime SEI supporter and Emmy Award-winning multimedia personality Tra’Renee Chambers was held at the site of the new community at 2 p.m today. Co-developers Tony Hopson, Sr., president and CEO of SEI and Eric Paine, CEO of CDP were joined by Commissioner Dan Ryan, City of Portland; Councilor Mary Nolan, District 5, Metro; Molly Rogers, interim director, Portland Housing Bureau;  Dr. Steven Holt, Oversight Committee chair, Portland Housing Bureau; and Andrea Bell, executive director, Oregon Housing & Community Services (OHCS).

As one of Portland’s leading multi-service organizations long focused on helping Black youth and families realize their full potential,  SEI is expanding into a new role as an affordable housing developer. The organization is joining forces with CDP,  a mission-driven affordable housing developer, to co-develop and co-own 5020 N. Interstate.

In his comments at the event, Tony Hopson, Sr., president and CEO of SEI shared, “I grew up in this area. I went to Beach Elementary and my mother still owns the house at Humboldt and Mississippi. I remember when I-5 went in and I could no longer walk down Humboldt to get to school. So when I think about what used to be here and the people who used to be here – who are no longer here; to have the opportunity to be a part of partnerships like the one we have with CDP that are helping to provide low-income housing for some of those folks so they can have a pathway back; it is just really, really important and meaningful.”

With new and affordable rental housing for households earning 60% or less of the area median income, 5020 N. Interstate will help fill Portland’s critical need for housing — most acute among low-income residents. But SEI and CDP have bigger aspirations: Through an innovative blend of design and on-site services, 5020 N. Interstate aims to support Black families, strengthen community connections and expand economic opportunity.

“We greatly admire the work that SEI does here in the community, and we’re grateful to them for taking a leap of faith to partner with us as co-owner and co-developer, enabling the vision of what we hoped to bring to this community,” said Eric Paine, CEO of CDP. “SEI’s connection to this community is distinct and it’s deep. The work that we’re doing together is only extending their reach.”

5020 N. Interstate is a key part of a larger collaboration between SEI and CDP that will be taking shape over the next couple of years. Called “Alberta Alive,” the initiative encompasses 5020 N. Interstate and two additional SEI-CDP projects on Alberta — 506 NE Alberta and 4957 NE 8th Avenue, both set to open by mid-2023 — as well as Alberta Abbey, an existing nonprofit arts center that will serve as an extension of the three housing communities and a space for residents to gather for events. The mission of Alberta Alive is to celebrate and strengthen Portland’s historic Black North/Northeast neighborhoods with affordable housing, supportive services and a shared community for underserved individuals and families.

5020 N. Interstate will support Black families and the community in various ways:

  • 75% of units will have two or three bedrooms, large enough for small families.

  • A small community garden, outdoor play area and courtyard, several art murals, and other physical features will support health, connection and well-being among residents.

  • The ground floor will include 2,500 square feet of neighborhood-serving commercial space that will be made available to Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.

  • SEI, a pillar of Portland’s Black community, is leading outreach to prospective residents and will oversee on-site services tailored to them. A SEI resident services coordinator will help residents navigate social services and provide referrals to community resources, including job training and asset-building classes, childcare and after-school programs.

  • SEI will also connect residents to the many youth programs SEI offers at its Center for Self Enhancement, less than a mile away. SEI also offers adult programming in parenting, financial management/budgeting, matched savings, credit repair, and home ownership.

5020 N. Interstate aligns with the City of Portland’s North/Northeast Preference Policy, which seeks to counter the harm caused by decades of public and private disinvestment in the area and urban renewal practices that displaced many Black residents. Under the policy, current and former residents of this historic heart of Portland’s African-American community, as well as people with generational ties to the area, are considered for new affordable housing opportunities before applicants without a history of living there.

5020 N. Interstate is funded by sources that include $9.2 million from the Metro Regional Affordable Housing Bond approved by voters in 2018, $14.7 million in Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credits, and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Grant funds from Metro.

“Metro is proud to support this project with affordable housing bond and transit-oriented development funds,” said Councilor Mary Nolan, District 5, Metro. “SEI leads from the heart, and from the community. This development partnership with CDP continues their reputation for innovation and vision.”

“5020 N. Interstate represents a manifestation of the collective care and commitment to ensuring our community’s basic needs, such as housing, are met. The pursuit of improving quality of lives through affordable housing requires us to all acknowledge the unjust actions that created some of the very housing issues we face today,” said OHCS Director Andrea Bell.

“OHCS is committed to addressing the root causes of our housing crisis, including systemic racism and structural inequities — not through words, but action. When we design programs to explicitly reduce racial disparities, we improve outcomes across the system and make them more effective for everyone. Centering racial justice also centers our collective humanity.”

Download a PDF of the press release here