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A watershed moment for affordable housing

Posted by | Catholic Charities Communications

Happy Valley development marks 1,000th for housing bond and sets the pace for Oregon small towns

PORTLAND, Ore. (11/6/23) — Catholic Charities of Oregon on Monday opened 142 units of affordable housing in Happy Valley. The area has transformed in recent decades from farmland to suburban small town.

“I’d like to welcome Good Shepherd Village,” said Happy Valley Mayor Tom Ellis. “We support this project wholeheartedly.”

Good Shepherd Village sets a tone for affordable housing in Oregon’s smaller communities, where until now the notion has been that major affordable housing developments are something for big cities. Also, the colorful development includes the 1,000th unit created under a $652.8 million Metro Housing Bond passed by Portland area voters in 2018.

Good Shepherd Village will be home to hundreds of families, seniors and veterans who have struggled with the region’s high housing costs. Residents who have been homeless or face homelessness will receive social services and case management provided by Catholic Charities and funded by Clackamas County.

The village is the first regulated affordable housing in Happy Valley and the largest development of its kind in the county.

“As a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, I’m appreciative that several units will be set aside for veterans,” said Ellis. “By working together, I believe we can help connect our community members to services they need.”

Since its incorporation as a city southeast of Portland in 1965, Happy Valley has grown from a rural district with a population of approximately 300 people to a suburban town of more than 26,000 residents. Planners included parks, meandering trails, well-maintained streets, quaint neighborhoods and clean commercial centers.

As part of that identity, current leaders of the city and county recognized a need for well-done affordable housing.

“The county’s population is growing fast,” said Clackamas County Commissioner Shull, himself a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.  “At the same time, the need for affordable housing has increased.  We see this in reduced housing stock and increase in renting costs.  Our working families are struggling.”

The county has completed construction or has started development on more than 1,500 new affordable homes in the last two years. Homelessness in the county has decreased by more than 30% in one year.

“Good Shepherd Village is the next step in our strategy to ensure Clackamas County is safe and secure for everyone who lives and works here,” Shull said.  “As the good shepherd parable teaches us to treat people in need with concern and care, we too must emulate that.”

Metro Councilor Ashton Simpson, who represents the Happy Valley area, said he is thrilled to be opening the first Metro affordable housing backed development in Happy Valley and celebrating the 1,000th unit created under the housing bond. “Together, we are helping provide a safe place to call home for thousands of individuals and families in our region not just today, but for generations to come,” Simpson said.

Good Shepherd Village is the largest development so far for Catholic Charities, which has created and serves more than 1,000 units in western Oregon. The agency also works to bring homeless people into housing.

“Access to food, shelter and clothing are the basic human rights,” said Scott Jonsson, a Catholic Charities board member who helped start the agency’s housing efforts 30 years ago. “Catholic Charities of Oregon has, does and will continue to grow our provision of these core human rights.”

The 11-acre development was built on a farm donated by the late John Brockamp and his family. Brockamp, himself a construction firm owner, died last year but not before joyfully taking part in the groundbreaking of Good Shepherd Village.

“John was a man of great faith and generosity and cherished the idea that this property would be used for the greater good of the community,” said his wife, Peggy Brockamp. She told listeners at a grand opening ceremony Monday that he was the one who chose the name “Good Shepherd” for the development.

Natalie Wood, executive director of Catholic Charities of Oregon, explained the name to the crowd of more than 100. In the gospels, Jesus refers to himself the “good shepherd” who lays down his life for his sheep. Wood said the Brockamp family and local officials are continuing the tradition of selfless service.

“Happy Valley is a glittering example for the state of how peaceful living and compassion can exist side by side,” Wood told the crowd. “You have all been good shepherds.”

The design of the development includes a bright palette for the outside of buildings and two dozen colorful murals inside painted by Emily Kepulis and Paola de la Cruz. The murals pay tribute to the area’s flora and fauna as well as depictions of communal harmony.

Funders of the project are Oregon Housing and Community Services, U.S. Bank, Banner Bank, the Metro Affordable Housing Bond and the Housing Authority of Clackamas County.

See the full photo galley on our Flickr