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Expanding in SW Portland to Serve More Neighbors

An exterior view of an office building with the words Neighborhood House on a walkway covering
Artist rendering of the front entrance of Neighborhood House’s new home at 8959 SW Barbur Blvd.

By Jim Redden, Published in the Portland Tribune Dec. 1, 2023

Neighborhood House, the longtime nonprofit social service agency based in the heart of Multnomah Village, will relocate several of its programs and offices to a remodeled office building at 8959 S.W. Barbur Blvd. by the end of next year.

According to development director Mari Yerger, the move will allow the organization to more than double the number of people it serves every year in its current location in a much nicer, more accessible facility. The two-story building set back from the heavily-traveled road has many large windows that will allow natural light into the reception area and rooms when the remodeling is completed.

“Many of the people who use our services are told they are not valued. We want them to be able to come to a facility that tells them they are,” said Yerger, who has served as development director since 2003.

Neighborhood House is also considering redeveloping its existing buildings at 7780 S.W. Capitol Highway and 3445 S.W. Moss St. into some form of affordable housing, although a final decision has not yet been made.

“We are not abandoning Multnomah Village. We want to continue to have a presence there,” Yerger said.

Neighborhood House was founded more than 100 years ago to serve lower income people and families in a part of Portland where many residents might not think there is much poverty.

Research conducted during planning of TriMet’s now-stalled Southwest Corridor MAX Light Rail Project debunked that, documenting large numbers of people dependent on low rents in older apartment buildings and transit, including members of refugee communities.

“About 1 in 4 students in Neighborhood House’s service area qualify for free and reduced meals, and over 10,000 households access government programs to supplement their food supply,” the organization says on its website.

The organization now also support several state, regional, county, and local social service programs. They include: the statewide Oregon Child Care Alliance; the tri-county Child Care Improvement Project; the Multnomah County Our Housing and Community Health program; the Food Security, Senior Services and Head Start programs that cover the west side of Multnomah County; and the School Age program, which provides child care before and after school at four Portland Public Schools in North and Northeast Portland.

“In its 100-plus year history, Neighborhood House was primarily centered on serving families in Southwest Portland. However, in the last decade, growing demand has led to expanding programs that provide high-quality education, child care, small business training, and housing services across the tri-county area and other programs serving statewide,” said development and communications director Mary DeBauche.

In addition to its administrative offices, Neighborhood House operates three programs in Multnomah Village. One is the largest food pantry in West Portland, where demand tripled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another is a senior center currently based in small rooms and a hallway at the nearby Multnomah Arts Center. The third is outreach assistance to young families in the area provided by a small staff.

All three programs would be able to serve many more people in the new facility, which is spread out over 16,212 square feet on two floors. That is more than four times the size of Neighborhood House’s current buildings, and it includes a large parking lot near a TriMet bus stop on a frequent service line.

A new affordable housing project partly funding by Metro is already planned in the area. More are likely when the Portland City Council approves the final version of the West Portland Town Center Plan around the intersection of intersection of Barbur, Southwest Capitol Highway and I-5, sometimes called the “Crossroads.”

Yerger said the remodeled facility will also have conference rooms and meeting paces that can be used by other community groups in the area, encouraging partnerships that should help bring in even more clients.

Yerger admits some seniors at the current program at the Multnomah Arts Center are not happy about the pending move, but hopes they will appreciate the easier access and larger rooms when the project is completed.

The project is a big undertaking for Neighborhood House. The building cost $1.9 million to purchase in March 2022, although Multnomah County valued it at $3.8 million. Renovation costs are estimated at $5.3 million, including such major work as adding an elevator and replacing the heating and air-conditioning system.

Works is scheduled to be begin early next year. Fundraising is ongoing. Contributions can be made to the Growing Our Village Capital Campaign at the Neighborhood House website, nhpdx.org.

“Many of the people who use our services are told they are not valued. We want them to be able to come to a facility that tells them they are.”

Mari Yerger, neighborhood house chief development Officer