New Grants Empowering Portland Neighborhoods

portland real estate neighborhood grants

How many cities can say they have an art museum in an elementary school, a bridge pedestrians are proud to use because it’s so gorgeous, and cultural events that help heal the wounds of gentrification? Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of Portland residents, with funding from Metro, the regional governing agency, the Portland metro area will soon be able to boast all of these things.

Enhancing Safety and Community on Outer Division

According to Metro, Southeast Division Street, from 82nd Avenue to 174th Avenue at the east end of Portland, is one of the most dangerous streets in Portland. Three pedestrians have been killed by drivers while crossing the street in this area, despite the existence of a pedestrian bridge.
While projects are underway to improve safety on the street, getting pedestrians to use the bridge is key. Local non-profit APANO spearheaded a proposal to add visibility to the bridge using a mural and bright paint throughout the structure, and they were one of the six recipients of the Placemaking Grant this year. The organization hopes that by engaging the communities that live in these Division street neighborhoods, the bridge project will do more than just enhance safety. It’s part of what placemaking is all about — strengthening social fabric and fostering connection to place, particularly for communities that have been historically marginalized.

From Farm to Market in Tigard

Since 2009, SupaFresh Youth Farm in Tigard, a suburb to the Southwest of Portland, has been teaching kids how to grow food while cultivating leadership and life skills at an expanding network of farms and gardens.

Meanwhile, the City of Tigard has put into motion plans for a new park, and they are joining forces with Oregon Human Development Corporation, which administers SupaFresh Youth Farm. The project, for which they were awarded a $13,000 grant by Metro, will build a market space within the new community garden at the planned Metzger School Park.

As any real estate agent will tell you, without a market, there isn’t a way to deliver your goods and services to the community! SupaFresh Youth Farm produces thousands of pounds of produce each year, and with a dedicated market space, students can learn business as well as farming skills. In addition, the Tigard community will benefit by having a reliable source of organic veggies right in their public park.

Rebuilding Community through Art in NE Portland

Getting school kids excited about modern art is not always an easy task. When kids are the curators, docents and installers of that art, however, they show up early for class and proudly tell the public what they’ve learned.

The in-school art museum at King School in NE Portland is one of six projects that received major grants from Metro’s new Placemaking Grant program this year, which gave out a total of $100,000 this year. The King School Museum of Contemporary Art received $19,000, and organizers say this money will go a long way toward not only educating kids, but also fighting gentrification in the neighborhood.

According to Metro, “The grant application pointed to the gentrification in the neighborhood around Martin Luther King School Jr. School. Black families who have been priced out of the area continue to send their children to this school, making it a special touchstone for the black community across the Portland region.”

As we’ve also talked about on this real estate blog, gentrification is a big issue for the city, but it’s also an area where Portland is leading the country in finding innovative solutions. Northeast Portland historically has been an African-American stronghold, beginning with the shipyard workers’ community in the 1940s. However, with the climb in real estate prices across Portland that began in the 90’s, many African-American families have been forced to move out of their Northeast Portland neighborhoods.

Some Northeast neighborhoods have taken a proactive approach against gentrification, working with the city’s zoning and transportation policies to keep home prices reasonable and generate local jobs, which can help keep longtime residents in these neighborhoods. And the King School wasn’t the only organization that serves African-American youth that applied for Metro’s Placemaking Grants in its inaugural year.

Y.G.B. Portland, which stands for Young, Gifted and Black or Brown, uses music and dance to reinforce a sense of community for people of color in Portland. For the past two years, the focus has been on hosting events, but now with an $11,400 grant from Metro, the collective will turn to beautifying NE Portland in a way that will both acknowledge its history and reshape its future. Three artists of color will take up month-long residencies in the neighborhood, applying their skills to undoing gentrification through art.

The final grantwinner in this category is the African American Cultural Festival, formerly Black History Festival, which takes place every February in Portland. This organization received the largest grant this year, $25,000, and will use the funds to extend its programming beyond Northeast Portland, to Beaverton, Troutdale and other places across Portland. These suburbs are an important piece of black history here in Portland because they have long served as landing zones for Northeast Portlanders displaced by gentrification.

Protecting A Major Portland Watershed

In 1986, a group of concerned citizens got together to demand Portland and Washington County officials clean up the highly polluted Tualatin River. It was the first successful application of the Clean Water Act in the state, and a proud organization was born: Tualatin Riverkeepers.
This year, with help from an $11,500 Metro grant, Tualatin Riverkeepers will partner with two local multicultural organizations to create a mural. It’s not just public art, it’s also educational: The mural, planned for a location in the community of Cornelius between Forest Grove and Hillsboro, will show polluted runoff affects waterways and watersheds.

Cornelius is a wonderful little agricultural community, and while the farmers’ markets are great and the wineries unparalleled in the Portland area, runoff is a concern, especially since the Tualatin River flows directly into the Willamette. Protecting this river means protecting clean water in Portland for decades to come.

Only in Portland

There’s a reason Portland, Oregon is known throughout the world as a culturally vibrant, inclusive and overall fun place to live. Individuals, organizations and local governments are dreaming big to create the kind of city and suburbs they want to live in — one with a clean environment, safe streets and proud history. Want to join the excitement? Contact our Portland area buyers’ team today!

September 18, 2017

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

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