Catholic Charities of Oregon Board Chairman Joe Schneid hosted a one-hour outdoor ceremony marking the opening of St. Francis Park Apartments, an additional 106 affordable units in the Buckman neighborhood. Partners in the venture at 1177 S.E. Stark Street, Home Forward, St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, were all represented.
Home Forward Chairman Jim Smith thanked the Portland Housing Bureau for its $6 million contribution to the project that converted an under-used park into housing for low income residents and women escaping abusive domestic situations. “Partnership makes it happen,” Smith said. “Home Forward could not accomplish its mission without the help of our partners.”
Looking back on her time at St. Francis, the oldest Catholic church on Portland’s eastside, parish administrator Valerie Chapman said, “The park had served its purpose, change is inevitable, and affordable housing is needed more than market-rate housing, but it’s not as plentiful.” St. Francis was founded in 1876 and serves a neighborhood where retired people like to live, she added.
Ali O’Neill, project manager for O’Neill Walsh Community Builders, spoke about the commitment from team members to integrating Catholic principles of social justice into the project.
The final speaker, Portland’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Alexander Sample, focused on the strength of the community when it comes together. “When we can come together from all our diverse backgrounds and look past our disagreements and care about those who need a leg up,” he said, “it makes me proud to be a partner in a venture like this.” He reminded all that life is more than a checklist. “We have to have an impact in what we do.” Extending his hands, Archbishop Sample blessed the apartments: “May they be a place of refuge, a place of hope, and may those who live here be protected from all evil.”
The ceremony was followed by a reception and tours of the facility.