Catholic Community Services and Fostering Hope Initiative have broken ground on a new affordable housing complex in Woodburn. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Villa Esperanza, or Hope Villa, will offer 16 apartments for low-income families. The complex is an innovative new approach to quality, affordable, supported housing in Woodburn. Through years of working with struggling families, CCS has learned that securing stable housing is not enough. Families also need accessible services. The major barriers families face, in addition to housing, are transportation and child care, barriers which will be addressed in the new apartments. In addition to a community room and child care space, there will also be private meeting rooms for service providers to offer direct services to the families living at the apartments.
Oregon Housing and Community Services is the major supporter of the project through a Local Innovation and Fast Track Housing (LIFT) Grant of $3,462,478. “OHCS is proud to partner with Catholic Community Services in ensuring that housing opportunity is in place for Oregon families,” said Margaret Salazar, Director of Oregon Housing and Community Services. “The ground breaking of Villa Esperanza could not come at a better time. The housing crisis continues to impact Oregon’s most vulnerable community members, and this development will provide much needed relief. We look forward to celebrating the grand opening of this community later this year.”
The land was purchased with the help of a donor. “We are grateful to OHCS for their vote of confidence in us, and to our expert partners including CASA of Oregon, Carlson Veit Architects and LMC Construction, who have generously contributed extra time and resources to the project,” said CCS Executive Director Jim Seymour. “The Woodburn Foursquare Church and Mayor Figley have also been very gracious in their support as the project has gotten underway.”
The successful model for this project has been developed and implemented in Salem by core partners including CCS; DHS: Child Welfare and Self Sufficiency; and Marion County Health Department: Children’s Behavioral Health, Adult Behavioral Health and Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services. Given the expertise and experience of this original Design Team, CCS will use a similar model and team to establish the referral process, treatment services and wraparound supports to be provided at Villa Esperanza. The innovative apartment complex design would enable service providers and partners to work with families on site, reducing barriers to services of transportation and child care, thus reducing the high rate of no shows for appointments.
Villa Esperanza is located in a CCS Fostering Hope Neighborhood. The Fostering Hope Initiative (FHI) is a collective-impact, neighborhood-based approach to support and empower vulnerable families. An FHI Design Team convenes monthly at the nearby Washington Elementary School to assist in planning, connecting families with resources and positive social connections, and implementing activities. Partners include school personnel; Woodburn Pediatric Clinic; Salud Medical Clinic; Parks & Rec.; the City of Woodburn (Mayor and Community Outreach Liaison); Marion-Polk Early Learning Hub; MERIT; Community Action Agency HeadStart and Child Care Resource and Referral, OSU Extension Services, and community volunteers. The FHI Community Health Worker will provide support to the families and assist with leveraging and aligning a variety of resources.
The innovative design of the apartment complex includes a community room and rooms for partners to provide direct services and supports which include: nutritional cooking classes, financial literacy classes, parenting education, the FHI Community Cafes, a support group for families with children with special needs, counseling, alcohol and drug treatment services, employment readiness, early learning activities, and other supports as identified by the families. The established FHI collective impact approach that includes a high level of commitment from a variety of partners and community volunteers provides a strong foundation of support that strengthens and empowers families.
The name of the project, Villa Esperanza or Hope Villa, was chosen by neighbors and community partners.
Catholic Community Services and Fostering Hope Initiative partners hosted a gathering in the summer at the Woodburn Foursquare Church before the rain set in to celebrate the project coming to fruition.
Among the attendees at the celebration was State Representative Teresa Alonso León. Representative Alonso León believes that education was her path to success, and now she is passionate about increasing opportunity and access to the members of her community.
“We must spend more time listening to what a community dreams of for itself,” said Alonso León. “That is why it is significant that community members and partners named this project Villa Esperanza, or Hope Villa.”
“When families, friends and neighbors come together and are actively engaged in making their neighborhoods safe, healthy places to live, anything is possible,” she said, “and these apartments represent a perfect example of what is possible when the community, business partners and social service providers work together to remove barriers and leverage resources.”