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There are many different real-estate assets you can invest in, from commercial offices and single-family homes to office buildings and retail stores, each with unique costs and risks. However, none of these can compete with the highest-yielding asset — you.
You are the best real-estate asset because it’s your confidence and expertise that guide your investment decisions and produce results. And you’ll only succeed in this industry by consistently making the best strategic choices.
Investing in yourself first is a formula that has worked for many of today’s real-estate entrepreneurs and is an approach that will work for you.
Here are four reasons why you should prioritize investing in yourself.
1. You appreciate faster
Real estate is considered one of the best investment vehicles since it naturally increases in value over time, especially with the right improvements and operational strategies. Optimizing rents, replacing windows and other enhancements will gradually raise the value of your real-estate asset.
For example, commercial real-estate values increased by 11% in the past year, as reported by Green Street’s Commercial Property Price Index. The CCIM Institute also notes the compounding returns of appreciation and improvements, estimating a 10% increase in property value yields a 50% markup on an investor’s 20% down-payment investment.
Likewise, your character, expertise and potential are powerful assets that generate incremental returns and can be improved steadily through traditional education, self-study, mentorship and hands-on experience.
Despite this parallel between investors and real estate, we learn much faster than any real property can appreciate in value. Whereas it could take ten years to capture the full equity of a property, some rookie operators need just one month of dedicated study and practice to become a functional real-estate “expert”.
Real estate is a highly sought-after investment as it hedges against volatility in the financial markets better than any other asset. Employing a basic statistical tool is how investors collectively reached this “volatility-resistant” perspective.
In finance, standard deviation quantifies the susceptibility of an asset to ups and downs in the market. The standard deviation of a blended public/private real-estate portfolio is approximately 14% less than a mix of stocks and bonds, which are considered the next most stable financial assets.
This distinctive disparity in the volatility metric indicates that real estate always maintains an intrinsic value no matter how bearish the economy is, providing essentials such as homes, restaurants and workplaces. Similarly, regardless of market fluctuations, your proficiency and education in real estate are always crucial and in demand.
A collapsing economy can’t erase your earned knowledge of deal negotiation, alliance formation and lean operations. These skills hold greater value than any piece of land, and you can exploit them to navigate even the most turbulent economic waters.
Unlike many other investment vehicles, real estate lets you scale quickly by harnessing other peoples’ money. Specifically, property owners rarely pay for a property using all cash. Rather, they deposit part of the outlay and secure the rest from a bank or private lender.
Prominent players in the industry tend to favor a similar structure. Case in point, in 2018, Real Capital Solutions — a real-estate investor in Chicago — purchased a $118 million office tower, putting only $12 million down upfront while financing the rest of the purchase with liquidity provided by capital partners.
The firm’s successful acquisition of capital of such magnitude — for 90% of the price, no less — required its owners to leverage their 30 years of industry know-how and networking prowess.
As an educated and experienced individual, you too can capitalize on your insight and credentials to sway your investor network, family, team and even the competition to achieve the impossible. In other words, you can also buy a mega office building with a 10% down payment.
Real estate is one of the few industries where you can leverage your talents and relationships to scale even more quickly.
4. You are 100% in control
On a purely individualistic level, you’re the best real-estate asset in the world because you’re 100% in control of yourself. The brightest minds in finance would agree that ideal investments are those you exercise the most control over.
UBS Global’s 2019 survey of leading family offices and wealth managers worldwide found that more than half the assets in the average private equity portfolio — 54%, to be exact — were direct investments that gave investors the most command.
These investments have become more popular and attractive because the more influence an operator has, the less vulnerable an investment is to external forces such as changing consumer tastes, unemployment rates or weather conditions.
With tighter reins, it’s easier to predict returns. You hold complete authority over your work ethic, mindset and commitment toward excellence and prosperity. As a result, the more you master and improve yourself, the further you’ll advance in any niche of the real-estate industry.
You first, then real estate
Before investing in any real estate endeavor, invest in yourself. Your knowledge, experience and skill in real estate hold more value than any piece of property.
Additionally, investing in yourself first protects you in any economic downturn, delivers the optimal return, and — best of all — is entirely within your control.
Your real-estate journey begins with you, so have faith in yourself, do the work and take the leap.
Zillow reportedly has about 7,000 homes that it now needs to unload – many for prices lower than it originally paid
Online shopping can be dangerous, as the US property website Zillow has belatedly come to realize. While many of us wasted countless hours during the pandemic clicking through real estate listings on Zillow and daydreaming about the sort of pad we’d buy if we had deep pockets, the company was running a side-business, separate from its property searching website, in which it deployed algorithms to help it buy houses themselves and then flip them.
It did a lot of buying, but hasn’t been so great at the selling. This week the company announced that its home-buying division, Offers, had lost more than $300m over the last few months. Offers will now be shut down and about 2,000 people laid off. Zillow reportedly has about 7,000 homes that it now needs to unload; many for prices lower than it originally paid.
You would be forgiven for not knowing that Zillow was even in the business of buying houses. For most of its 15-year history the Seattle-based company focused on publishing online real estate listings. Then, in 2018, its CEO, Richard Barton, started to aggressively move the company into a business known as iBuying. The idea is that algorithms would identify attractive homes to flip; Zillow would buy the home directly from the seller; minor renovations would be made; Zillow would quickly flip the house and pocket a profit. At one point Barton aimed to buy 5,000 homes a month by 2024.
iBuying is a nascent industry. A recent report from Zillow found that the four largest iBuyers – Zillow Offers, RedfinNow, Offerpad and Opendoor – were responsible for just 1% of all US home purchases in the second quarter of 2021. (Although that number goes up to 5% in certain fast-growing markets like Phoenix.) But while it’s still in its infancy, there’s a lot of excitement among tech types about the future of algorithm-powered home buying. “There is an arms race right now of who will become the Amazon of real estate,” a real-estate professor at Columbia University recently told Marketwatch. “That’s why all these companies like Zillow or Redfin want to have everything in house.”
Enormous companies with deep pockets and mounds of data bidding against ordinary people in an already absurd housing market? It sounds like a nightmare for anyone who isn’t a tech investor. And indeed, news of what Zillow has been up to has caused a backlash on social media, largely fuelled by a viral TikTok by a Nevada real-estate agent called Sean Gotcher that claimed iBuyers manipulate the housing market.
Gotcher didn’t explicitly name Zillow but he heavily alluded to them and accused the company of using data harvested from people perusing their dream homes while they are bored on the website. Gotcher said this nameless company then buys a ton of properties in the neighbourhood people are searching for, and overpay for a couple of adjacent properties in order to artificially drive up prices. (Zillow and Redfin have denied doing this and real estate experts have noted they don’t have enough market share for this strategy to work.)
Zillow may not have been explicitly manipulating the market, but it was certainly trying to use technology to outsmart it. In the end, however, the market won. Zillow’s flipping flop should serve as a reassuring reminder that not everything can be automated. There are various reasons why Zillow got burned, including a labour shortage making it difficult to renovate homes. But the biggest issue is that its algorithm simply wasn’t up to snuff. It couldn’t deal with the complexities of pricing in a volatile market and resulted in Zillow overpaying for a lot of property.
While individual homebuyers may not have to compete against Zillow any longer, it’s unlikely that buying a house is going to get any cheaper or easier anytime soon. Those 7,000 houses Zillow is sitting on? Bloomberg reports that they will probably be offloaded to institutional investors like BlackRock rather than regular people. And while Zillow may be ending its iBuying business, the financialization of housing looks set to continue. Big money is gobbling up real estate and leaving many first-time buyers out in the cold.
Mixed-use and low- to medium-income housing led the way, but the skating rink still has its fan base.
COURTESY PHOTO: JULIA DEBAEKE – The Lloyd Center with some very empty store spaces in 2019. Mixed-use residential and commercial use, and low- to medium-income housing, led a Portland Tribune survey of best future uses of the site of the Lloyd Center. But about 20 readers want a Major League Baseball stadium.
Portland Tribune readers were asked about the best use of the space occupied now by the Lloyd Center, after it was announced that a real estate finance trust said it will foreclose on a $110 million loan and redevelop the site.
Earlier this week, an unscientific survey was sent to people who receive the Tribune’s email newsletter. As of Friday, Nov. 5, almost 280 people had responded.
The overwhelming favorite option include a combination of low- and middle-income housing in a mixed-use setting — a combination of residential and commercial space.
And many readers wanted that, plus keeping the skating rink as is.
No two people offered the exact same answer to the open-ended question: “What would be the best use for that building, or that site, should the mall cease to be?” But an estimated 67 people opted for mixed use, with 43 readers — often the same ones — opting for affordable housing.
“It’s time to reimagine the district as a vibrant hub for commerce and housing, in one of the west’s best transportation zones. Let’s be bold!” — Survey respondent
“Instead of mall space, use some space for low-income apartments and training space for the low-income people. Maybe child care so folks could work,” wrote a reader named Colleen.
Another reader, Michele, agreed. “Redevelop for much-needed mix of housing, with supportive services include jobs training, child care on site. It’s time to reimagine the district as a vibrant hub for commerce and housing, in one of the west’s best transportation zones. Let’s be bold!”
A reader named Stanley wrote, “This is an opportunity to create an innovative mixed-use project that should also include affordable housing and some recreational use.”
An estimated 31 readers felt the site would best be used for some combination of homeless shelters, homeless services, or both.
“Should be converted and used to house the homeless instead of pushing them out into local neighborhoods.” said a reader named Billy.
“The entire facility should be converted into housing for Portland’s homeless,” according to a reader named Robert. “It would be safe, warm, and with easy access to city and state social services. It could probably house several hundred homeless in a dormitory setting.”
A reader named Roxane opted for a variation of that. “Not suitable for low-income housing but what about offering all sorts of services to the homeless and addicted and mentally ill people?” she asked.
The next most popular set of options revolved around entertainment. Twenty readers want the site used as a stadium for Major League Baseball — Portland does not have an MLB team, but efforts to lure one here have been ongoing for decades.
At least 24 people asked that the ice-skating rink remain, either as is, or as an outdoor venue.
Six suggested a kind of entertainment destination. “It could be turned into an entertainment/restaurant destination,” wrote an anonymous responder. “Live Nation was considering a music venue there, as was a movie theater group. Combine that with supporting restaurants and I think it could be a winner. In addition, some of the space could be used for housing and office space, but keep the skating rink, and the new spiral stair. Those are icon emblems of the place that used to be.”
An estimated 22 readers feel the best use of the mall is … as a mall.
“Would be so nice to have it remain a shopping destination, as the east side is underserved for shopping,” wrote a reader named Rebecca.
“I think the city of Portland should buy the mall and continue to operate it, using the income to fund city functions, much as the city bought Pittock Mansion and turned it into a park,” wrote Lisa.
The flip side of that: a retail format that isn’t the traditional mall. “Homes and offices sound OK, but a general array of stores: hardware, dry cleaners, dime stores … restaurants must be needed in that community,” wrote Susan. “So why not change it … to something other than a mall?”
Readers also came up with other options:
• Seven seek a new city park.
• Five people want to see senior housing or a retirement community.
• Three suggested turning it into a school.
• And other options, with at least one vote each, included a hub for bike-centric services, a U.S. Post Office, an industrial campus, a cluster of food carts, and space dedicated to nonprofits.
Two readers were adamant that it not become “a new Pearl District.”
And, being an unscientific survey, of course, some readers’ responses ranged from the humorous to the cranky.
“Civic detention center for vagrants and … ‘peaceful protesters’ who loot and use violence to freely express their societal complaints,” wrote one.
“Don’t know and don’t really care as my family will never go there,” wrote Don. “PDX is on such a disastrous path that no one I know goes anywhere there.”
One reader blamed “globalist Zionists” for the closure of Lloyd Center.
And one reader felt the ultimate answer for the mall was to think small.
The national narrative was that Black families were among the most hesitant about a return to school buildings. One North Portland school bucked that trend last spring, by building trust among families.
Last February, as the push to fully reopen schools gained momentum, articles appeared in publications from New York to Baltimore to Mississippi—Black parents, by and large, were not going to send their kids back. The reasons were manifold: the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on Black communities, lack of access to health care, racism in schools, and, overwhelmingly, a lack of trust by parents that schools could keep their kids safe.
But some Black parents made a very different choice, buoyed by trust not of the system, but their own teachers and principals.
Case in point: North Portland’s Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary, which until a couple of years ago was the state’s only remaining majority–African American school and still has a sizable Black population. There, 64 percent of Black children returned to school, roughly the same percentage as their white counterparts. (Among those who returned are this reporter’s children, who are white.)
In contrast, at Rosa Parks and César Chávez, other North Portland schools with well-above-district-average populations of children of color, fewer than 50 percent of all students chose hybrid learning.
“At first I was like, ‘We’re gonna stay home,’” says Nina Alexis, parent to four, three of whom attended Boise-Eliot/Humboldt in the 2020–2021 school year. “At the last minute I decided to go back, and I never would have done it had it not been for [the principal] Mr. Kaveh’s great communication.”
“As we all know, PPS doesn’t always have the best interests of our children in mind when making decisions,” says another BEH parent, Alshawnda Martin, who also works as the school’s PTA president.
Martin’s fifth grader had struggled with online learning initially but found her footing. Yet when it came to a decision about in-person learning, she begged to go back to finish out her time at BEH. Because Martin is active in the school, she says she witnessed firsthand the careful preparations being made for reopening the building, which helped build her own trust and arrive at the decision to let her daughter return.
Tina Turner, the school’s former assistant principal and herself a Black mother of three, understands Black parents’ reluctance to engage with a system that has historically failed to prioritize their children. “A lot of us don’t trust the system—the system isn’t set up for us,” says Turner. “And I think oftentimes if you are not able to access the information that’s going to make you feel comfortable, you just tend not to deal with that.”
She says Boise-Eliot/Humboldt reached out to parents individually and organized their in-school options to suit as many schedules as they could.
“We chose our hybrid option in the morning and in the afternoon because we knew that providing both opportunities would help more students be able to access school,” she says. “Ultimately, our families appreciated the fact that we were being transparent and saying, ‘Yeah, we don’t have all the answers, but what we do know we will share with you.’”
Turner sent her own children back to in-person learning at their Northeast neighborhood PPS school, Vernon. “It was a struggle being at home,” she admits. So, when the time came for her to make the call, she weighed her options. “Either I continue to be afraid, and keep my kids at home, or I go back to work and be a part of the community, and take my chances,” she says.
Though the spread of the Delta variant has changed the calculations about this fall for some, Martin said in June that she was glad she made the call she did at the time, despite the risks that existed then. “Sending my kids back was the best decision that I made,” she says. “Not for just me but for my children. They needed that.”
Here are five reasons why your business needs you to prioritize important tasks to grow.
What’s the most valuable thing in the world?
Now, if your answer was a materialistic one, you are wrong. Time is the one we are talking about. Ever wondered what the common difference between the business owners who succeed and those who fail is? The answer lies in successfully managing your time.
What is time management for business?
Believe me, feeling the pressure of running out of time on a deadline is a huge stress, especially when juggling several tasks in your business. That’s where time management comes in to save your business.
Time management for your business includes prioritizing important tasks, designating time to complete those tasks and then committing to complete those tasks within that time frame.
Successful people multitask a lot, but they make sure to spend the bulk of their time on important tasks that are much more conducive to their business’s success than dwindling on unimportant ones. Time management skills require discipline. They make you work smart instead of only working hard. You’ll get more things done in less time for your business. That’s the secret of success.
You may not have the motivation to change your routine or ways of working if you don’t yet have a clear picture of how crucial time management is for your business.
Let’s learn about five reasons why your business needs you to learn time management for its survival.
1. Accomplish more in less
The first and foremost reason why your business needs your time management skills is that time is always in a limited supply. There are only 24 hours in a day. You have to make do in whatever time you get in a day.
Whether you have a business meeting or any specific task completion, all you have is a set amount of hours. Understanding that time is finite helps you understand its value more clearly. With time management, you can accomplish more in lesser time.
That makes you focus on important business meetings and marketing presentations more than other lesser tasks you can designate. That focus translates into a higher level of productivity for your business.
2. Better decision making
Most of the time, your business needs you to prioritize your tasks according to importance. With good time management skills, all of that can be a lot easier to manage.
Easier management of tasks relieves you of any work-related stress and makes you think clearly. It makes you focus on the tasks at hand much more efficiently.
With good time management you can develop better ideas, make wiser decisions and find solutions quickly for any stumbling blocks in your business.
3. More time for business expansion
Time management isn’t only limited to handling your business more effectively and efficiently. It also gives you more time to learn something new and explore new ventures to help expand your business.
The extra time you will have at hand will give you opportunities to take your business forward, acquire new skills and look towards the horizon. The new endeavors will then provide you with even more prospects and potential growth.
4. Relieving stress
Being able to manage your time efficiently directly impacts your health and business. Imagine facing fewer surprises, reducing the number of tight deadlines and eliminating the need to rush from one task to another all day long.
You can only garner peace of mind when you can manage your time well enough in your business. Being constantly busy to feel a little accomplished, but still never completing the tasks will take its toll on your mental health and deteriorate your decision-making skills.
That’s why your business needs you to learn time management. You’ll improve your ability to meet tight deadlines while staying calm and composed.
5. Increasing the quality of work and services
Working on a tight schedule with strict deadlines can severely hinder the quality of your work in your business. Did you ever come across a situation where a deadline was near, but you could have provided much higher quality work had you been given a little more time?
Imagine giving a presentation to somebody about an important business proposition, but missing a few crucial points and questions due to mental stress and unavailability of time. That’s where your time management skills will help your business. If you are planning and managing the time constraints wisely, you will focus more on certain tasks without taking stress. That will, in turn, increase the quality of your output.
Your business needs you — not an ordinary you, but you at your best. To give it your best, start excelling at time management. Figure out where you are losing time. Ensure that you prioritize your tasks as per their importance, which will help you make the biggest progress toward your ultimate goal: expanding and growing your business.
Remember one thing, your time management skills won’t take your time. They will make time for you instead. They will allow you to do more in a shorter time.
You will start seeing the positive impact on your business in no time. Your work quality will improve. You will roam around stress-free and focus more on newer and bigger opportunities efficiently. You will feel that only now you have positioned yourself to succeed.
At Miami Nice, you may not immediately realize you’re eating vegan. The croquettas are fried up tightly, and the Cubanito is neatly pressed. Many menu items are versions of street/comfort food that owner Valerie Espinoza loves—with a vegan twist. The chop salad comes with marinated soy curls on top instead of chicken. The dish’s bright yellow sauce draws stares; it’s a mixture of curry, mustard and mayonnaise she worked on to get just right. Other menu items stand out for their Mami-specific flavor, like the Big Papi, which has green olives in the picadillo instead of raisins. The starchy food works well to stave off the high ABV in beers at Culmination Brewing, where Espinoza runs the kitchen.
For conventional ice cream, we’ve long loved Cool Moon best. The chocolate flavors are more Valrhona than Hershey’s, and there remains a solid core of unusual—but consistently creamy—naturally flavored and well-balanced offerings. Definitely order the kulfi, redolent of cardamom and rose water, Thai iced tea and Mexican-influenced horchata cookie.
At Anthony Brown’s relatively new brick and mortar—formerly a garishly teal-colored food truck—, Mexican favorites get hitched to Southern food and Cajun-Creole flavors. You can find “Mexicajun” food in both Louisiana and Southeast Texas, but it’s a rare concept in Portland, if not entirely unheard of. The “Nacheaux nachos” start with a big pile of fresh-fried chips and also feature carnitas that could just as easily be cochon au lait, while a cheesy “crunchwrap” comes stuffed with red beans, dirty rice and fried chicken.
Cully Central is something unique in Portland: a Lao beer bar with 20 handles, boasting favorites from Breakside and pFriem. It turns out dishes you can’t find anywhere else, in particular a subtle khao piek sen chicken noodle soup with thick and chewy rice noodles and a light cinnamon and pepper broth.
Cooperativa has a lot of what you need in a beautiful, air-conditioned environment—it’s a grocery store, a coffee shop, an ice cream place, a sandwich shop, a bar, a restaurant and a pizzeria, infused with the vibe and flavors of Bologna, Florence, Rome and the Italian “slow food” movement. Never go outside again!
YāYā PDX, Pure Spice, Happy Dragon and Chen’s Good Taste are our top picks for roasted duck, char siu pork and roasted pork belly.
Step away from the hamburger and ribs—this summer, it’s all about the Cantonese barbecue.
Pork and duck, marinated and roasted in ways that create crispy skin, and tender meat laced with the flavors of hoisin, soy and star anise. And of those Cantonese specialties, I present a holy trinity of sorts: roasted duck, chopped whole and bone-in, flush with flavor; roasted pork belly, rendered well and with a perfectly crisp layer of skin on the top; and char siu pork, sliced and infused with hoisin and soy. Sometimes there’s also steamed soya chicken, and that’s fine too, but those three are the supreme meats.
Newcomer YāYā PDX brings takeout Cantonese barbecue to a close-in neighborhood, with delicious results, which inspired me to take a li’l tour of all my favorite spots, just in case you too would like to subsist on leftover duck for the better part of a month. (Pro tip: It makes fantastic fried rice.)
Chef Steven Chin calls Cantonese barbecue his soul food, and you really feel that. The streamlined menu focuses on serving meat over rice with hot mustard, dipping sauce and pickled cucumber and carrot. It’s simple and it’s great.
Of the three in our meat triumvirate, YāYā particularly nails the duck and char siu pork. Of all the duck I’ve sampled (and it’s been many; sorry to my avian friends), Chin’s is the most five-spice forward. The ducks he selects also have more meat on the bones than many of the others, leading to luscious full bites of bird. As Cantonese duck is served chopped and bone-in, this means a bigger and better pay off as you nibble.
The char siu is even better—tender and softly sweet, it’s a far cry from the red food coloring-spiked barbecue pork served at some establishments. In both cases, the juices from the meat make their way into the bed of rice, which is itself perfectly cooked and seasoned beyond standard steamed rice. The one downside to YāYā’s dishes is that all of the rich meats are accompanied by sweet sauces, and while the pickles have a bit of acid, they also are a bit sugary, meaning the whole meal tends a bit toward the saccharine. Bites of rice and throwing an order of the cool, crisp cabbage salad onto your order maintains balance.
Chin’s Cantonese approach, done in partnership with Portland restaurateur Micah Camden, is certainly geared more toward a crowd on Alberta than in the Jade District, but the cheffy turns he takes make for a great takeout meal.
EAT: YāYā PDX, 1451 NE Alberta St., 503-477-5555, yayapdx.com.
Chen’s Good Taste
Unless you’re a vegetarian, I can’t think of a tastier sight than the roasted meats hanging near the entrance to Chen’s Good Taste, a holdout in downtown’s Chinatown. To be perfectly honest, the finest way to have the meats at Good Taste are by ordering Super Bowl A, an absolute unit of soup that’s filled with noodles, wontons and bok choy and topped with roast duck and roast and barbecue pork. It is nigh on physically impossible to finish in one go.
But if you’re not in a soup mood, each of the trinity is sold by the pound or is available in all sorts of dishes. The roasted pork here is a true delicacy, perfectly salty and not too fatty. The contrasting crunchy skin hits just the right textural note in a blend of fat and umami that I crave regularly. Chen’s know this is its signature meat: You can order an entire pig, and it’s a bucket-list birthday plan of mine.
This Independence, Ore., restaurant is a central valley favorite for duck, and when the owners moved to Northeast 82nd, they immediately upped Portland’s duck game as well.
Happy Dragon is most famous for its super-crunchy and deeply seasoned Peking duck, but the roast duck is something a little more accessible for everyday eating. A little less crispy than Peking, the roast duck maintains its juiciness, with the meat absorbing the rendered fat, while the skin is a vehicle for the 18 ingredients used in the marinade. Here the barbecue Pork is a bit of an afterthought, and the roast pork belly is totally serviceable. You won’t go wrong ordering either of them, as long as you don’t skip that duck.
Known more for its fresh-from-the-kitchen dim sum, Pure Spice low key holds it down in the Cantonese barbecue category as well. Pure Spice doesn’t mess with a roast pork belly but makes up for it with its barbecue pork. It’s just a shade more tender and meatier than most, and lacks the overt sweetness that is often typical in a char siu situation.
Pick the menu option that lets you order the roast duck, steamed chicken (another Cantonese classic), and barbecue pork together for $22.50, and then spend some time with the rest of the menu: Grab some har gow shrimp dumplings, a scallion pancake and a rice noodle roll with XO sauce for maximum sampling satisfaction.
A city of Portland drive to spend $114 million in federal coronavirus aid to help struggling residents last year overwhelmingly assisted Black Portlanders as well as other communities of color, according to an analysis released Tuesday.
The sweeping set of initiatives approved by the Portland City Council included providing everything from Chromebooks to those with limited digital resources to food boxes and direct cash payments to families to grants to businesses and artists that had fallen on hard times.
City officials said it was essential that programs created with Portland’s share of federal CARES Act money prioritize historically marginalized groups such as communities of color, immigrants and people with disabilities.
An interim a report issued to Portland’s mayor and city commissioners by the city’s Office of Management and Finance on Tuesday shows the programs largely achieved that objective.
For example, among those who received laptops or internet cards from the city’s $5 million “digital divide” program, 33% identified as Black and another 56% identified as Indigenous or other people of color.
Black residents also comprised 33% of those who received aid from a $2.3 million food assistance program and 58% of a $1.6 million homeowner stabilization fund.
According to the most recent census estimates, from 2019, people who identify as Black make up 8% of the city’s population, while 10% identify as Latino and 70% identify solely as white. In addition, 2% identify as Indigenous, 11% as Asian American and 1% as Pacific Islander.
Those percentages add up to slightly more than 100% because some people identify as more than one of those categories, such as Black and Latino.
The spending analysis, which faced multiple delays, comes as the City Council plans to approve a new $64 million assistance program using funds the city received from the federal American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed in March.
Ultimately, the city says it wants to pull all demographic and geographic data about relief recipients together to evaluate and share with the public.
Below is a breakdown for three of Portland’s largest CARES Act programs.
The program launched last year and administered by the Oregon Community Foundation is finally realizing its full potential, adding more than 900 units of emergency shelter to state’s capacity in 19 projects across 13 counties.
A few months ago, Troy and Danette were living in the only home they could afford when they became houseless.
At $400 a month, they were renting two bedrooms in a decrepit old house in rural Yamhill County and sharing it with their elderly landlord.
When the aging property owner’s children decided to move him out of the home, they also boarded up the house, which had fallen into complete disrepair.
“That left us with no place to go,” said Troy, who spoke to OPB on the condition that he give only his first name.
“They really didn’t give us much notice. They pulled all the appliances out, there were opossums coming in at night, and they were going to totally turn the electricity and everything off by the first of April.”
According to Troy, Danette has congestive heart failure and diabetes among other serious health conditions. Troy’s health is also strained, but mostly he feared for his wife.
“Being on the street like that would have killed my wife,” he said. “Just the stress alone of not knowing where we were gonna go was pretty hard.”
But luckily for Troy, that was right around the same time he met Sean Cavaghan, one of several outreach specialists for Yamhill Community Action Partnership, or YCAP, a houseless services provider based in McMinnville.
Over the past year, YCAP and other agencies across Oregon have seen success in a creative solution to emergency housing: using the state’s stock of empty motels as non-congregate shelter for people vulnerable to COVID-19 or people who have been victims of wildfire.
Cavaghan introduced Troy to a program YCAP had been running since around March 2020 that grew out of a partnership with Providence Newberg Medical Center to shelter unhoused people who were medically vulnerable.
Troy and Danette were able to be set up in their own motel room for a few months while they got back on their feet with the help of Cavaghan and other YCAP staff who came to check on them regularly to ensure medical and other needs were being met.
According to Cavaghan, a huge part of the outreach process includes just speaking to clients, learning their story and identifying what other services they could benefit from.
Eventually YCAP was able to find housing for Troy and Danette and help them apply for Section 8 vouchers.
Cavaghan said that one of the biggest challenges for unhoused people is having access to a phone or the internet, critical tools when you’re trying to find a place to live or navigate government systems.
With YCAP’s help and some federal assistance money, Troy and Danette are now living in their own home.
“That organization pretty much saved us,” Troy said. “I don’t want to sound like a cliche, but I was checking (Sean) for wings and a halo.”
A creative solution to a complex problem
Troy and Danette’s story is familiar to just about anyone in Oregon who works in homeless services. But this framework for helping vulnerable people get into stable housing where wrap-around services are made readily available has provided a breakthrough for Oregon in finding a new model of emergency shelter.
That new model took the form of Project Turnkey, a grant program administered by the Oregon Community Foundation that has allowed agencies like YCAP to purchase former motels across the state at the cost of $75 million to add more than 900 units of emergency shelter to the state’s portfolio.
This money allowed 13 Oregon counties to purchase 19 properties that account for a 20% increase in Oregon’s year-round emergency shelter capacity. Those counties are: Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Deschutes, Jackson, Lincoln, Lane, Douglas, Marion, Coos, Umatilla, Klamath and Benton.
Many properties purchased through Project Turnkey are currently being operated as emergency shelters, but others are requiring extensive upgrades to meet the needs of the agencies and communities using them.
Each project is at a different stage. For example, in Jackson County, a 47-unit motel in Medford is currently one-third occupied while the other two-thirds receives a major face lift. Another in Portland is receiving updates now and is expected to open in September. About 16 of the 19 properties are housing occupants in some capacity, according to the Oregon Community Foundation.
The program officially got off the ground in November 2020 when the state Legislature’s emergency board set aside $65 million for the Oregon Community Foundation to administer the grants. Counties and other groups soon began submitting applications.
Two separate funds were provided by the state in that initial cash infusion: one totaling $30 million to be awarded in counties and tribal communities impacted by the 2020 wildfires; and one totaling $44.7 million for the remaining 28 counties in the state.
The Oregon Legislature ended up setting aside an additional $9 million in late June to fill a gap and allow agencies in Bend and Portland to pursue three more opportunities.
To keep track of the program’s progress and vet projects along the way, the Oregon Community Foundation created an advisory committee that keeps tabs on how the properties are being used and what types of outcomes they’re seeing among the people they are helping.
Megan Loeb, Oregon Community Foundation program officer for economic vitality and health, said that her agency is focused on being good stewards of the funds to ensure that every dollar is a community asset that helps the state both in the short and long term.
“We believe this is a model public-private partnership to help address a very complex problem,” Loeb said.
Project Turnkey recently received some praise when the National Alliance to End Homelessness — a nonprofit that gathers data and produces research on best practices — featured the program in a July 20 case study on turning motels into housing.
One of the findings of that study commended the state and the Oregon Community Foundation’s ability to have strong oversight through the advisory committee. It also praised the program for ensuring that each project has a community-centered approach with strategies that take into account both the short and long-term goals of each project.
“The collective wisdom of many public and private sector partners helped this concept to gain traction within Oregon’s Legislature and at the local level within communities,” the study said. “Those partners informed the design and priorities of the grant program, and continue to engage as champions and technical assistance providers to ensure long-term success of the initiative.”
Quantifying success of Project Turnkey
Cavaghan says the great thing about the Project Turnkey model is that it provides people like Troy and Danette a sense of stability.
For people who come out of congregate housing settings, it allows them to rebuild the soft skills that come with living on your own and establish the type of headspace that allows unhoused individuals to move forward into more permanent housing situations.
“I think the best outcome is just being happy and healthy,” Cavaghan said. “Just being in their own space and being able to do things they wanted to do. The question that comes up all the time is, ‘What are you doing for fun or enjoyment?’ Usually the answer is nothing. Usually it’s just survival.”
In Multnomah County, the Project Turnkey model has done much of the same it has for Yamhill: it allows agencies to adapt on the fly and respond to emergencies.
According to Denis Theriault — a Multnomah County communications coordinator who works closely with the joint office of homeless services — using motels to house vulnerable unhoused populations was an easy way to help limit the spread of COVID-19. As the pandemic worsened, Multnomah County was increasingly challenged by the prospect of keeping unhoused people taking shelter in spaces like the Oregon Convention Center socially distanced.
“Even in those places, even when you got six feet around you, you’re still in a congregate space,” Theriault said. “A lot of people in shelters are older, 65 and up, and have health conditions.”
The county began putting people up in several motels across Portland, and when the Oregon Community Foundation announced Project Turnkey would provide the county and its partners the ability to permanently purchase motel property, they jumped at the opportunity.
Theriault says the county operates approximately 1,400 shelter beds on any given day. Through Project Turnkey, they’ve been able to partner with organizations like Do Good Multnomah, Central City Concern and the Rockwood Community Development Corporation to add 188 beds, getting the county closer to its goal of adding 400 permanent beds.
Housing crises not just a ‘Portland issue’
Theriault said that Project Turnkey is able to address housing issues on a statewide level because Oregon’s housing crisis isn’t an issue exclusive to the metro area. He said that when other counties add shelter or transitional housing capacity, it alleviates strain across the entire state.
“The housing crisis, it’s not a Multnomah County issue,” Theriault said. “People who see Portland and Multnomah County as sort of this example of what went wrong, … it’s going wrong in their communities too. And Project Turnkey, smartly, is helping them get some resources in recognition that there’s things they can do to help their folks too.”
Affordability is another big issue that plays into Oregon’s housing and homeless crisis.
If you ask around the state, you might hear a few different answers as to where the most unaffordable community in Oregon truly is.
One of those places is Benton County, and Corvallis specifically, where — according to Corvallis Housing First Director Andrea Myhre — rent-to-income ratios are on the extreme end of unaffordability.
“We’re right up there with Portland,” Myhre said.
Myhre said that Benton County also lacks a diversity in different styles and levels of housing, similar to many other parts of the state struggling with housing instability and homelessness.
According to Myhre, having the ability to purchase a 25-unit property just outside of downtown Corvallis not only addressed issues around congregate sheltering while the pandemic remains, but also adding stock to their market for people who are experiencing chronic homelessness.
“It is so hard to find land or any development sites here,” Myhre said. “The exciting thing is we have a half acre of land in the back of the property, so we were like, ‘Great, let’s build more’”.
Planning for the future
At its beginning, Project Turnkey was laser focused on sheltering individuals who were vulnerable to COVID-19 or were victims of wildfire. As the pandemic lingers and wildfire returns to Oregon’s landscape, the properties continue to serve a primary function in the rapid rehousing of vulnerable populations.
But many of the service providers that have purchased motels as shelters have big ideas for what might come next. They’re also planning how to fund these operations on an ongoing basis after receiving a one-time allocation to acquire them.
For Myhre, being able to offer supportive services is as important as the physical roof over people’s heads, so ensuring they are able to continue staffing the shelter has been a big issue.
That’s also true for many of the organizations and counties that have participated in Project Turnkey.
According to Theriault, programs in Washington and Multnomah counties have been able to staff the shelter with money made available through the supportive housing services ballot measure passed by Portland-area voters last year.
Other counties are not as fortunate, so many of them had to go out for other grants or partnerships that will allow them to continue staffing these new shelters at a high level.
Mary-Rain O’Meara, Central City Concern’s director of real estate, said that in the near term her organization is focusing on the permanent housing aspect of Project Turnkey — helping those experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders stabilize and transition on their way to more permanent housing.
But in the long term, Central City Concern plans to expand use of the property it purchased — the former Comfort Inn and Suites located near 102nd Avenue near the Portland Airport — by adding it to its list of Federally Qualified Health Centers in partnership with the Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Health Authority and Legacy Health.
Central City Concern is billing it as a “recovery hotel,” where clients can receive the medical and behavioral healthcare they need to move forward. They expect to begin renovations on that property in October.
“It has been a unique challenge to take on this ‘patchwork’ approach to fundraising for operations of the building, but we are committed … to put the building to work housing those most in need of these services,” O’Meara said.
In Benton County, Corvallis Housing First is relying on funds from emergency solutions grants through the Department of Housing and Community Services and the “Rural Oregon Continuum of Care,’’ which disperses federal housing and urban development dollars to the 28 counties that aren’t considered Orgon’s metropolitan cores.
“We’re (now) able to pay for operational expenses and some facilities renovations through the first 12 months,” Myhre said. “We do have questions about what we are going to do after that.”
Myhre said that her organization was able to garner help from their state and federal representatives — State Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis; and Congressman Peter DeFazio — to add an additional $8 million so they can build more transitional apartments on the half-acre lot behind their Project Turnkey property.
In Jackson County, Chad McComas, the executive director of Rogue Retreat, has taken a somewhat different approach than what Project Turnkey has typically seen throughout the state.
The 47-unit motel his organization purchased in the heart of Medford will operate more as transitional housing. They’ll focus on rapid rehousing of wildfire victims — a continued issue following the Almeda Fire that swept through the region at the end of last summer — particularly those within the local Latino community.
Rogue Retreat is currently putting approximately $30,000 into renovations on each unit, 15-16 of which will have small kitchens and basically be studio apartments. The total cost of the project, funded through the Oregon Community Foundation grant, will come in around $2.5 million.
Rogue Retreat is doing the renovations in phases, so currently two-thirds of its units are open for business while one-third of units undergo renovations. They’ll also have recuperative rooms dedicated to outpatient care for unhoused individuals who need to recover after receiving medical care through a partnership with their local Providence Health system.
Beyond those units, the rest of the property will operate much like an apartment complex, with tenants paying a modest rent to fund ongoing wraparound services and case management at the property in order to move residents upward on what McComas describes as the “staircase of housing.”
That rent also helps cover the cost of utilities, building upkeep and an on-site manager. Operating the motel like an apartment complex will also help people rebuild their sense of self sufficiency so they can continue to move forward.
“Whenever they start getting jobs, they start getting income, and they start putting the pieces of their lives back together,” McComas said. “Maybe they get help to get their addiction to start dropping off, maybe their mental health improves, now they can afford a small apartment. So we just keep moving them up the staircase.”
McComas said that the opportunity that Project Turnkey has provided for Rogue Retreat is a “game changer,” one that allows them to take ownership of a strategic property without a massive mortgage hanging over their head.
He said Project Turnkey is a chance for the state to save money. Instead of unhoused Oregonians languishing on the streets, the program has provided another 900-plus beds across the state for people to begin the journey of rebuilding their lives in healthier, more stable environments.
“The cost of having somebody on the street is huge,” he said. “If we get a person housed there’s a better chance that they will now be able to turn their life around and start giving back to society. It’s just a smart thing to do, if not the moral thing to do.”
For Troy and Danette, that’s exactly what the model of Project Turnkey has provided, and they’re grateful to both the state and its partners in identifying a thoughtful solution to support thousands of people like themselves who fall on hard times.
“It’s genius. I mean, It’s just common sense,” Troy said. “In a country as affluent as we are, there’s no reason anybody should not have a roof over their head.”
Better still, Collin Hegna of spaghetti Western worshippers Federale has curated a lineup local bands and DJs to perform before each screening.
Movie theaters are back open, but the drive-in renaissance continues.
Of course, the Portland Expo Center’s annual Drive-In Movie Spectacular was a tradition for five years before the pandemic made watching movies through your windshield cool again, but it’s upped its game the past two summers via a partnership with Hollywood Theater.
This year’s slate features selections inspired by the Hollywood’s signature series, like the Portland Black Film Festival, Queer Horror and OregonMade. Better still, Collin Hegna of spaghetti Western worshippers Federale has curated a lineup local bands and DJs to perform before each screening.
Federale itself will play prior to cult classic Repo Man on July 30, while folk-punk vets the Builders and the Butchers perform before The Goonies on Aug. 6. Freddy Trujillo opens for La Bamba on Aug. 21, and the Portland Cello Project introduces The Empire Strikes Back on Aug. 19.
Other movies include series opener Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Craft, Blade, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The Drive-In Spectacular runs July 29-Aug. 28. Go here for the full schedule and ticket info.