Catholic Charities of Oregon Opens St. Francis Park Apartments

Posted by | Deacon Rick Birkel

On May 17th, Catholic Charities of Oregon dedicated Saint Francis Park Apartments in the rapidly developing Buckman neighborhood of southeast Portland. The $23 million 106-unit project will feature 20 units, with preference given to people transitioning from homelessness with referrals from Transitions Projects, Northwest Pilot Project, and Housing Transitions Program; and five units with preference for people escaping domestic violence with referrals from NAYA. The remaining units will house working individuals, earning 60% or less of the median family income.

“We are excited that this project will provide affordable housing to people transitioning from homelessness, as well as survivors of domestic violence, said Executive Director at Catholic Charities of Oregon, Richard Birkel. “These services are core to our mission. We are grateful to Home Forward, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, the City of Portland, HUD, KeyBank, Chase Bank, and all our supporters for partnering with us to build this remarkable project.”

Home Forward served as the developer and special limited partner, while St. Francis of Assis Catholic Church provided strategic support in defining Saint Francis Park Apartments’ role in serving the community. From the outset, all partners worked to ensure that this project would honor and preserve the long history and character of the neighborhood and the Saint Francis Park that formerly occupied the space. As such, the project was developed utilizing three main guiding principles: hospitality and respect, nature and environment, and social justice and equity. All plans were aimed at respecting the past and providing hope to the apartments’ residents for the future.

In addition to the studio and one-bedroom apartments, the development features a community room, interior courtyard, and a community garden space for residents. The previously vacated street, SE Oak, will remain open to the public as Francis & Clare Commons for pedestrians and bikes, including a seating plaza situated among a grove of existing mature trees. Funding from Metro helped to support this addition.
KeyBank invested a total of $9.5 million in equity in the project. “At KeyBank, our Community

Development Lending and Investment Team is always seeking opportunities to help meaningfully impact the neighborhoods where we live and work,” said KeyBank Vice President Beth Palmer, the relationship manager who negotiated the investment. “With the Saint Francis Park Apartments, we look forward to providing at-risk individuals and families with a safe haven they can call their own.”

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