November 20, 2019

Chair Deborah Kafoury speaks at the opening of the Louisa Flowers Apartments on Nov. 14, 2019.
PORTLAND — Celebrating the County’s largest affordable housing development in 50 years, Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioner Susheela Jayapal joined with Home Forward and leaders from across the community Nov. 14 to formally open the Louisa Flowers Apartments.

The 12-story building — rising from the prominent Lloyd District corner of N.E. Grand and Holladay — will provide 240 apartments for community members who would otherwise be left behind by the Portland metro area’s increasingly expensive housing market.

“There are so many reasons to celebrate this afternoon,” said Commissioner Jayapal, whose district includes the development. “At this time of severe crisis created by the lack of affordable housing in our region, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of adding this number of homes to our affordable housing stock.”

Also, thanks to funding through the Joint Office of Homeless Services and the Multnomah County Domestic and Sexual Violence Coordination Office, 20 of those affordable homes will be set aside for people who've experienced domestic violence.

Chair Kafoury noted that more than one out of three people living without shelter in Multnomah County have reported experiencing domestic violence. Kafoury and Jayapal both said the community’s lack of affordable housing can force people to stay in abusive situations.

“When you decide to leave your abuser and have nowhere to go,” Chair Kafoury said, “living in your car and on the streets might be the only option you have left.”

Commissioner Susheela Jayapal speaks at the opening of the Louisa Flowers Apartments on Nov. 14, 2019.
The Louisa Flowers Apartments also marks an acknowledgment of the decades of redevelopment that displaced thousands of African Americans from the once-vibrant neighborhoods cleared to make room for Interstate 5, the Rose Quarter and the Lloyd District. 

Flowers, the building’s namesake, was a 19th century leader in Portland’s African American community. She owned a farm in northeast Portland, despite racist laws that made wealth and property ownership difficult for members of Oregon’s black community. 

The project cost $74 million, with funding from the state of Oregon, federal housing tax credits, the city of Portland and Multnomah County. 

The Home Forward development includes a mix of studio, one-bedroom and family-size apartments. Every apartment will be reserved for a household earning 60 percent of the area’s median income or less. For a family of four, that equals $52,740 a year.

Residents also will receive self-sufficiency training — including credit repair, job placement, employment referrals and home-buying education.

“I don’t just see an apartment building,” said TomiRene Hettman, a Home Forward resident who also serves on the housing authority’s board. “It is a castle. A castle of humanistic hope.”

Video shows the face of Louisa Flowers, the namesake of the Louisa Flowers Apartments opened Nov. 14, 2019.

TomiRene Hettman, Home Forward resident and member of the authority's board, speaks at the opening of the Louisa Flowers Apartments on Nov. 14, 2019.
The outside of the 240-unit Louisa Flowers Apartments, which opened formally on Nov. 14, 2019.
Community leaders including Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioner Susheela Jayapal help open the Louisa Flowers Apartments on Nov. 14, 2019.