GRESHAM, Oreg. (KOIN) — One of the largest non-profits in Oregon, Albertina Kerr, invites you to a virtual groundbreaking for its new affordable housing project in Gresham.
The event will be live-streamed on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Watch it online here.
For years, the organization has cared for Oregonians with mental health challenges and intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD.) Now, they’re helping put a roof over the heads of their own employees and other community caregivers, as well as adults experiencing I/DD.
Kerr’s Workforce and Inclusive Housing Project will go up along the northwest corner of Albertina Kerr’s Gresham campus off of 162nd Avenue between Halsey and Glisan streets. The site will offer 150 low-cost units — ranging from studios to 3-bedroom apartments — including 30 universally accessible units reserved for adults with I/DD.
“We’re using the latest technology and construction means to be able to help people who experience a disability be more independent,” CEO Jeff Carr said. “We’ll have in the kitchen upper cabinets that are on hydraulics, that you can push a button on the counter height. So if you’re in a wheelchair… they’ll come out and come down.”
Carr says the idea for the project came about in 2016 after he found out that an employee was homeless living in a tent with her five kids.
“I soon found out she was not the only one, that we had some employees that were couch surfing, that were living in their cars, and it became clear to me that we had a problem — not just at Albertina Kerr, but a lot of the folks in these direct care jobs.. that care for vulnerable citizens.” Carr said.. “[They] were having trouble trying to find stable, affordable housing.”
Despite raising his employee’s wages, Carrs says the rising cost of living in Oregon and lack of affordable housing still makes it difficult for many to find a place to live. So, he decided to do something about it.
Now in the construction phase, Kerr’s new affordable housing project will soon be open to all direct care workers with qualifying incomes.
“No one who is willing to do this kind of Mother Teresa type work should have to live in a car, tent, or any place like that. They should have a decent place to live that’s affordable, that’s safe, that’s comfortable,” Carr said. “I just really hope that this isn’t the last, but the first of many — and hopefully our project inspires others.”
According to Albertina Kerr, the development will also be the largest net-zero affordable housing project in the Pacific Northwest — meaning the entire building will be powered by solar energy.
“[Tenants will] pay no utilities, no sewer, no water, and electricity…. and then we’re going to provide high-speed Wi-Fi,” Carr added.
The total cost of the project is about 45.9 million and is funded by investors, bonds, grants, and donors, according to Carr. Housing is expected to be available in Spring 2022 for eligible community members.