PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After discovering that 56% of Portland Community College students who responded to a March 2021 survey said they had experienced housing insecurity in the last year, the college decided that it was time to take action.

PCC says its Portland Metropolitan Workforce Training Center (PMWTC), located in the Cully neighborhood, will include 84 affordable housing units at their location as well as other supportive services to be accessed by surrounding communities. The school also partnered with Home Forward to develop and manage the affordable housing community site.

The recently completed facilities plan at PCC helped the college develop this strategy to address the need for affordable housing in the area. The plan will reportedly allow the college to identify potential housing sites on PCC locations and create criteria to balance student support services with future academic land use needs.

PCC says that they can’t serve as a housing operator, but that they are committed to partnerships with providers who have the expertise and resources required to handle affordable housing sites that are on campus.

“Knowing that students with greater life stability have higher rates of college retention and graduation, PCC is now taking the steps to introduce community affordable housing at each of our campuses and the (PMWTC),” explained Rebecca Ocken, interim director of PCC’s Planning & Capital Construction Office.

“Housing is what we do and people are the reason it matters. Housing is just one piece of what’s needed to achieve people’s full potential,” added Jonathan Trutt, the director of development and community revitalization at Home Forward.

The affordable housing building will have large units that can accommodate families with children, as well as roommates. Additionally, there will be units set aside for families involved in the foster care system.

“Having Home Forward’s affordable housing community next door is central to providing the range of coordinated support that low-income folks need to achieve economic mobility,” PCC’s Regional Director of Community Workforce Development Pam Hester said.

PMWTC is currently under construction but it will also be the future site of PCC’s next Opportunity Center, where the college aims to create opportunities for people to transform their lives through education and careers.

“The center will aim to reverse racial and economic disparities by connecting people to skills training, wrap-around support, and navigation/career coaching so they can succeed in education and career track employment,” Hester said. “At the center, PCC will offer a range of services to help people build skills and create education and career plans, and on-site partners will provide wrap-around support and guidance.”

The future affordable housing units planned for PMWTC and other PCC campuses will be heavily marketed to PCC students but will be open to the community. Students who qualify will not lose housing if they aren’t enrolled at PCC.

For more details on PCC’s planning and construction, visit https://www.pcc.edu/bond.