Catholic Charities of Oregon, through Caritas Housing, will turn St. Francis Park, just south of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 1131 S.E. Oak St. in the Buckman Neighborhood, into 106 studio and one-bedroom apartments, of which 25 units will be reserved for women transitioning from homelessness and individuals escaping domestic and sexual violence.
The four-story complex is expected to be completed in 2017 and will cover an entire city block, replacing much of St. Francis Park, which was originally built for parish schoolchildren by school families and neighborhood residents. Most recently it has been used as an urban park.
Catholic Charities purchased the site in 2014 and has a controlling interest in the apartments, with Home Forward serving as the developer and special limited partner. St. Francis of Assisi Parish will continue to operate the community dining hall and share programming of events. This unique partnership between Catholic Charities, the parish and Home Forward reflects the core values of each organization: social justice, hospitality to others and respect for the earth and environment.
O’Neill Walsh Community Builders will serve as construction manager and general contractor for the project. O’Neill Walsh is a partnership between O’Neill Construction Group and Walsh Construction Co. that provides construction management and general contracting services with an emphasis on sustainability, affordable housing and community equity.
Design services for the project were provided by MWA Architects.
To preserve local green space, the site will include an interior courtyard providing recreational and community garden space for residents. Southeast Oak Street will remain open to the public for pedestrians and bikes, including a seating plaza. A grove of existing mature trees will be maintained as a natural area. The project is financed in part by the State of Oregon’s low-income housing tax credit program, the City of Portland, and local energy-green grants.