Dreams of Owning a Home in My Neighborhood

Pathway 1000 presents a path forward

Sommer Martin | 1/10/2018, 9:46 a.m.
Let’s face it, I am in my early 30’s, I work full-time, and the only affordable place for me to ...
Sommer Martin considers the possibilities of home ownership during a Pathway 1000 Home Ownership Education Forum by Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI) Photo by Suzanne Veaudry/PCRI

The thought of attending a work event on a Saturday morning was making my foot swell. Thoughts of staying home with a hot cup of tea, self-help book, blanket and home-cooked meal were out the window, as my company, Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI), was hosting its second Pathway 1000 Homeownership Education Forum at the Portland Metropolitan Workforce Training Center, a few miles away from my mother’s house, with whom I live with, begrudgingly.

Let’s face it, I am in my early 30’s, I work full-time, and the only affordable place for me to reside in Portland is a shared living space with ye ole Mother Hen. It is as lively as it sounds.

It was incredibly grey that Saturday morning. The drive over was slow with the melodic sounds of rain. The movement from windshield wipers made me even sleepier. More hateful, I arrived at the location a few minutes early, to see a small number of cars scattered like confetti around the parking lot.

After parking, I noticed a woman walking briskly to the event space trying to escape rain and wind, all the while trying to keep her outfit dry and her hairstyle intact. I giggled to myself. ‘I feel you, sis.’ My umbrella went up, and I jogged to the front door.

Inside were a few people sitting, standing and milling about, snacking on delectables from our continental Panera Bread breakfast. I made a beeline towards the food and found a cozy spot next to Jackie Butts, Homeownership Program Manager for the Portland Housing Center, one of our featured guest speakers. After a brief conversation catching each other up on our lives, I began to see more people from the community tickle in. But my coffee had not yet taken effect and I was set on everybody within a five mile radius knowing I was only there for work, and that I would prefer to be in my bed.

Maxine Fitzpatrick, PCRI’s executive director, walked in and there was a visible sigh of relief from Yvette Davis, the organization’s Homeownership Program Coordinator. The show could not start without Maxine.

Introduced to a room full of eager ears, Fitzpatrick spoke about her initial 5-year commitment to PCRI and Portland, and how she ended up staying another 20 years. She spoke of PCRI’s homeownership initiative, Pathway 1000, which will involve building 1,000 units of affordable housing. The new construction sites are in north and northeast Portland and include townhomes, space for commercial businesses, and The Beatrice Morrow and King Park apartments.

With comedic timing laced with facts about generational poverty in the black community, Portland specifically, Fitzpatrick described how Pathway 1000 would combat generational poverty through job training, improving educational pursuits, and homeownership.

“The city reneged on its urban renewal plan, but you have a right to return to your neighborhood,” she explained.

I thought, “What is keeping me from owning a home in my old neighborhood?”

My family owned the four bedroom two bath home I grew up in. I knew nothing about what it took to keep our house up and running, how it helped our family financially, or the home buying process. I just remember how it felt. It felt good to come home from school, and know our house was ours. It felt good not “living on top” of other people in an apartment complex. It felt good investing in our neighbors and vice versa. It even felt good witnessing the pride my mother took in her garden.