The Bud Clark Commons Portland, Oregon Kara Silbernagel image: http://www.aroundthesunblog.com
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 16Abstract 3. Concentrate resources on programs that oﬀer measurable On June 2, 2011, Portland, Oregon opened a multi- results.faceted homeless facility in the heart of the city. e Bud Clark Inherent within the Home Again plan, as outlined withCommons, the cornerstone of Portland’s 10-year plan to end these three key principles, is a “housing first” methodology tohomelessness, provides tiered services to people experiencing end homelessness and develop a comprehensive homelesshomelessness (Home Again, 2005). Within the 10-year plan, facility. At the cornerstone of the plan was the Bud ClarkPortland identified three critical services that helps individuals Commons (BCC), originally known as the Resource Accessachieve stability and end homelessness; shelter services, access Center. e BCC was developed from an innovative partnershipto resources, and most importantly, stable housing. e Bud with the City of Portland’s Housing Bureau, MultnomahClark Commons is the linchpin of the plan by providing all County, Home Forward (previously the Housing Authority ofthree services to individuals within the same building. e Portland) and local service provider, Transition Projects, Inc.facility is a LEED-Platinum building that houses a resource day While Portland Housing Bureau, Multnomah County were keycenter, men’s shelter and 130 studio apartments. ese players in siting the facility, Home Forward and Transitionapartments provide permanent housing to the most vulnerable, Projects are instrumental in the management and day-to-daychronically homeless populations under the Housing First operations of the facility.model. e following case study looks at the innovative e first floor of the building houses a 90-bed men’spartnerships between the City of Portland, Multnomah County, shelter, with the second and third floors hosting a Resource Dayservice providers, business associations and citizen groups to Center. e Day Center provides resources such as mentalsuccessfully site and design the facility while keeping sight of health, veteran services, eye care and social security services tothe overarching goal: helping individuals overcome personal anyone in the community seeking assistance. e remainder ofand social barriers to achieve stability. the building is made up of 130 Housing First studio apartments that provides permanent housing to chronically homelessDiscussion individuals who suﬀer from personal barriers such as mental In 2005, the City of Portland, Oregon and Multnomah illness or drug abuse. See Appendix A for a layout of the facility.County developed “Home Again – A 10-year plan to endhomelessness in Portland and Multnomah County.” e 10-year Appetite for Collaborationplan addresses several issues throughout Portland and Portland has a strong history for collaboration and civicMultnomah County, highlighting three key goals: engagement. Critical to these civic engagement eﬀorts is the1. Focus on the most chronically homeless populations. Oﬃce of Neighborhood Involvement, a bureau within city2. Streamline access to existing services in order to prevent government. In Portland there are 95 distinct neighborhood and reduce other homelessness. associations recognized by the City and actively involved
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 17community government. Whether private or public, any new housing typically do not have the means to support businessesdevelopment, deed or permit must notify and engage with and retail. Without a balanced housing market, the communityappropriate neighborhood association(s) prior to receiving could not sustain a vibrant business district. Owners wouldapproval from City Council.1 is process allows community leave the neighborhood, creating a windfall for the community.2members to voice their concerns and provide valuable feedback At the onset of the siting process, members of theto City oﬃcials to better shape development in Portland. community, specifically OTCT were unhappy with the location e Bud Clark Commons is sited at the juncture of Old and many argued the City ignored the Vision Plan and its goalsTown China Town Neighborhood and Pearl District in for balance in the community. Members felt the City wasdowntown Portland. Historically known as the “skid row” of placing an unjust burden on the Old Town ChinatownPortland, Old Town Chinatown (OTCT) is the common neighborhood. While residents and business owners acceptedgathering location for people suﬀering from homelessness, that the community needed to provide services to the homeless,mental illnesses, drug addition and other illnesses. In an eﬀort they felt adding additional low-income housing was shiing theto help individuals overcome such barriers, several human balance and creating an unsustainable community.service providers have located to the neighborhood over the In addition, OTCT Vice Chair, Nancy Stowell recalls atyears. Local service providers, such as Transition Projects have the beginning of the siting process that the Bud Clarkbeen providing men’s and women’s shelters, meals and social Commons was not the only development being proposed. ereservices to the homeless in OTCT for years. As a staple fixture were multiple low-income and aﬀordable housing developmentsin the community, many of these service providers are not only under consideration which only increased the community’sbusinesses, but they are also active, engaged community concern about an unbalanced neighborhood. rough the sitingmembers participating in neighborhood associations. and design process, the City and project partners actively Approximately 30 years ago, the Old Town Chinatown engaged with residents and businesses to address their concernsNeighborhood Association adopted a Vision Plan for the and ensure the facility would not inhibit the value of thecommunity. Due to the neighborhood’s longstanding reputation neighborhood, but rather sustain and contribute to a safe,as “skid row” residents were determined to address the issues healthy community.facing the area and develop a plan to create a vibrant, safe, andhealthy community. Rather than try to clean-up and eradicate Case Studythe neighborhood of its nuisances, OTCT embraced and Phase I: Locationintegrated the diversity of the area in their plan. e Vision Plan e Bud Clark Commons facility is located in OTCT,set out goals to balance low-income, poverty residences with just south of the Portland Union Station, and borders the Pearlmarket rate and above housing. Residents of low-income District neighborhood – a historically higher income,1 Oﬃce of Neighborhood Involvement (http://www.portlandonline.com/oni/)2 Stowell, Nancy. Vice Chair of Old Town China Town Neighborhood Association. Interviewed 4.17.12
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 18destination neighborhood. e specific space was a vacant lot renewal block. e other half of the block would be set aside forowned by the Portland Development Commission (PDC), the redevelopment and market-rate housing. is resolution,urban renewal agency for the City charged with developing coupled with the fact that the intent of the 10-year Home Againprojects to meet the City’s housing, economic and homeless plan was always intended to site the facility in Oldredevelopment priorities. In 2008, City Council transferred the Town Chinatown, helped to alleviate tensions betweenblock from the PDC to the Portland Housing Authority to community members and service providers. Citizens moveddevelop the site for the Bud Clark Commons.3 e siting beyond opposition and entered into a collaborative decisionresolution outlines an alternative block if the NW Irving block making process with the site developers to ensure the facilityis deemed inadequate, due to an environmental assessment or simultaneously addressed homeless needs in the neighborhood,cost. is alternative block is still located within OTCT as well as community member concerns.neighborhood – demonstrating the City’s plan to develop thefacility that is the cornerstone of the 10-year plan within OTCT. Phase II: Designe resolution also outlines that the Oﬃce of Neighborhood e Portland Housing Board and Home ForwardInvolvement must help facilitate a good neighborhood created a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) toagreement between all agencies and neighbors, “as required by participate in the development and design of the facility. LocalCity Policy.” residents from neighborhood associations, business association As mentioned above, there was high interest from representatives, service providers and individuals who hadcommunity members in the siting of the facility. To address previously been homeless and could speak on behalf of thosecommunity concerns, the Old Town Chinatown Visions currently suﬀering from homelessness served on the CAC. Forcommittee hosted twelve meetings between 2007 and 2008. One two years, the advisory committee, with leadership from Homeof the top concerns from these meetings was the housing Forward, worked with the designers and architects to create animbalance it would create in the neighborhood, as well as that engaging design that reflected the values of the community.5the siting may impede future redevelopment of the Broadway e advisory committee provided crucial perspectivesCorridor – a significant city project to promote redevelopment on pieces ranging from exterior design, aesthetics to overallin downtown Portland.4 As a compromise for both resident and community impacts. For example, the CAC helped problembusiness concerns, the PDC and Portland Housing Bureau solve a common concern, queuing. Oentimes, individualsagreed the facility would only be on half of PDC-owned urban queue in front of facilities, blocking sidewalks, littering and in3 Resource Access Center (RAC) Resolution, 2008. http://www.homeforward.org/system/files/docs/developments/RAC-sitingresolution.pdf4 Portland Development Commission Resolution, 2008. http://www.homeforward.org/system/files/docs/developments/RAC-PDC-resolutionblockU.pdf5 Allen, Kate. Senior Policy Advisor, Portland Housing Bureau. Interviewed 3.31.12
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 19some instances, exhibiting disruptive behavior. To resolve sparked the idea for the Good Neighbor Agreement, Kate Allen,queuing tensions, the Bud Clark Commons only allows Senior Policy Advisor stated it is a common practice in Portlandindividuals to queue within the facilities courtyard. Not only and required by City policy for certain developments, such asdoes this provide a safer, cleaner environment for the this one.8 While neighborhood agreements and processes diﬀercommunity, it also provides a safe, protected environment for depending on circumstances, it is common for the City’sthe homeless, especially during times of bad weather when lines Neighborhood Involvement Bureau to facilitate neighborhoodare the longest.6 CAC members were also concerned about how agreements, oentimes between business development andthe design of the facility may impede future redevelopment on neighborhoods. e idea to develop a neighborhood agreementthe remainder of the block. is was agreed upon by all parties was always planned to be a part of the siting process.and helped foster the design of the ground floor in ways that Many of the stakeholders that participated in thesupported the functionality of the building without creating Community Advisory Council were the same as those thatproblems for residents or the Portland Police Bureau.”7 rough participated in the Good Neighborhood Agreement (GNA)two design workshops multiple Community Advisory negotiations. However, GNA stakeholders represented a largerCommittee meetings, the architects were able to incorporate the congregation of community stakeholders than those thatneeds and concerns of all the stakeholders into the facility. participated in the CAC. In addition, Transition Projects Additionally, the Community Advisory Committee also identified homeless representatives to also participate in theplayed vital roles in securing permits, receiving authorization process. As part of the GNA negotiations, future Bud Clarkand financing for the facility. Representatives from the CAC Commons residence were engaged in the process to buildprovided vital testimony for City Council throughout the community and help residents take responsibility for theirprocess, including the Resolution process transferring home. e impact from their participation can be seen in theownership of the block, approving the design of the facility and GNA. When neighbors saw that residents were engaged andeventual development. Again, reiterating the collaborative taking a stake in their combined community, there was a largedecision framework. shi from an “us versus them” to an “us” mantra.5 To eﬀectively enter into a neighborhood agreement, theGood Neighbor Agreement Development Process City paid for a professional facilitator to manage the Once the Bud Clark Commons secured funding and discussions. is allowed representatives from the Portlandbegan to move forward with building the facility, the Portland Housing Bureau, Home Forward and Transitions Project toHousing Bureau initiated a community engagement process to participate as stakeholders, rather than a facilitator.develop a Good Neighbor Agreement. When asked what Representatives of these agencies were largely leadership and6 Home Forward (www.homeforward.org)7 Design Workshop Notes, 2008. http://www.homeforward.org/system/files/docs/developments/RAC-DesignWorkshop-SummaryNotes053108.pdf8 Allen, Kate. Senior Policy Advisor, Portland Housing Bureau. Interviewed 3.31.12
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 20Board Members. Staﬀ from these agencies served mostly as Good Neighbor Agreement Impactsresources to address questions, rather than participate in the In the end, the Good Neighbor Agreement is simply notSiting Committee. just a paper of signatures. Rather it outlines, in detail, how the As a staﬀ resource present at these GNA negotiations, community, businesses, and Bud Clark residents can mitigateMs. Allen lauded the role of the facilitator. e facilitator was concerns and conflicts moving forward.10 e GNA providescritical in rephrasing comments and concerns into constructive protocols for addressing any safety or disturbance concerns.criticisms and a common platform. is helped mitigate the role Rather than allowing any circumstance to escalate, theof emotions and allowed the stakeholders to eﬀectively and Good Neighbor Agreement encourages any persons with aeﬃciently address concerns. It created a comfortable, safe concern to call representatives. is helps to address concernsenvironment, free to be critical while remaining respectful of immediately and proactively respond. e GNA also includes aothers.9 In the end, the stakeholders were working towards a detailed call list of stakeholders which, according to Ms. Allen,common goal, rather than complete opposition. has been instrumental in the operations of the facility. is As part of the GNA negotiations, the Portland Housing allows person-to-person connections, rather than simply feelingBureau developed an outreach and communication plan to that a concern may not be addressed.eﬀectively engage as many residents, business owners and other Another aspect of the Good Neighbor Agreement alsostakeholders as possible. It is clear that Portland Housing includes the Operating Rules for Bud Clark CommonsAuthority went beyond generally accepted engagement for this residents. is inclusion into the Agreement allows communityprocess. Rather than simply posting public meetings in legal members to see that BCC residents are also held to a high safetysections of newspapers, PHA compiled a complete PowerPoint standard and they are responsible for maintaining a safe andpresentation that was available on their website, went into the clean neighborhood as well. is helps ensure the weight of thecommunity, and hosted a GNA signature party once the community is equally dispersed among neighborhood residentsnegotiations were complete. is outreach fostered the idea that and businesses, agency partners and Bud Clark Commonsnegotiations were not a one-step process that ended at a one- residents.time meeting. Rather, it was an iterative process that depended In eﬀorts to continue community development with allon the stakeholders to carry-out the GNA once the facility was the stakeholders, neighborhood associations invite residents tobuilt. For a complete list of stakeholders see the Good participate in their quarterly meetings. In addition, serviceNeighborhood Agreement, Appendix B. provider representatives also participate in meetings. As both Ms. Allen and Ms. Stowell reiterated to me, the residents at the Bud Clark Commons are not isolated, but rather part of a9 Allen, Kate. Senior Policy Advisor, Portland Housing Bureau. Interviewed 3.31.1210 Good Neighbor Agreement – Appendix B
Emerging Best Practices in Siting Housing First | 21community, which can be just as vital to attaining housing balances housing market. rough thoughtful and articulatestability as housing itself. meetings, project partners and community stakeholders were able to site, design and operate a facility to tackle homelessnessConclusion and provide a value-added benefit to the neighborhood. While the Bud Clark Commons Housing Facility What lessons can North Boulder Alliance and Boulderinitially received community push back, through a Housing Partners learn from the Bud Clark Commons? It iscomprehensive community engagement process and evident that community engagement is embedded in the City ofcollaborative decision making, the facility was successfully sited Portland. ere were strong expectations that communityin its intended location. While some of the eﬀorts from the members would be integrated into the process. But is that not soproject partners were innovative and transparent, such as the diﬀerent from the culture in Boulder? Boulder also has a strongCommunity Advisory Committee that was involved from the tradition of transparency and engagement that is oenbeginning, the City of Portland has historically fostered a correlated to Portland. Moving forward the City of Boulder maytransparent, collaborative process between city government and develop regulated procedures that foster a civil civicresidents. For over thirty years, Portland has oﬃcially engagement process. Provide a platform for neighborhoodrecognized neighborhood associations and created policies and associations to be heard, such as a Neighborhood Involvementregulations that regularly involve community members. is Bureau. is not only benefits community members, but it alsoenvironment for collaboration and transparency created a high outlines a process for all developers. Planners and developerslevel of expectations on part of both residents and project can plan for methods to alleviate opposition and conflicts,partners to ensure the Bud Clark Commons met the needs and rather than address more common claims, which is that theconcerns of stakeholders. community wasn’t heard. Boulder Housing Alliance can learn In looking at the Bud Clark Commons process, we can from Old Town Chinatown and adopt a vision plan for thelearn from their community engagement to ensure successful community. e homeless providers are not leaving thehousing services in the City of Boulder. While common neighborhood. e facility is going to be built. It is time to workopposition to the Boulder Housing First facility is that one with the city, engage with the homeless population so they arecommunity is bearing the burden of services for the entire city, also part of the community, and adopt policies for futurethe Old Town Chinatown neighborhood association accepted development so the burden can be address immediately.this role within Portland. In addition, several years prior todeveloping the facility, the City highlighted that the cornerstoneto ending homelessness would be providing services within OldTown Chinatown. Guided by a decades-old Vision Plan that isformally recognized by City Council, OTCT addressed the issuehead-on. Community Advisory Committee members addressedspecific concerns related to business sustainability and a
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