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Housing and a Backup Plan

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

New housing director advances PCRI mission

Beverly Corbell

Kymberly Horner, the new executive director of Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, picks up the mantle to a mission to see 1,000 new living units built in the next 10 years to help alleviate the housing crisis. PCRI is a housing nonprofit rooted in Portland’s African American community.PHOTO BY BEVERLY CORBELL



When Kymberly Horner took over as executive director of Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives this past fall, she vowed to have an impact on Portland’s housing crisis and now she is moving forward on the nonprofit’s goal to build 1,000 new housing units in the next 10 years.


Called Pathway 1000, the plan was developed by Maxine Fitzpatrick, Horner’s predecessor who founded PCRI in 1994. The organization, rooted in Portland’s African American community, was formed in direct response to fraudulent real estate contracts that caused many people of color in north and northeast Portland to lose their homes. Thanks to the work of PCRI, many of those homeowners back then had their mortgages rewritten and their homes were saved.


Getting people into their own homes today – whether renting or buying – is the main goal of PCRI. But Horner wants to take it a step farther and make sure people can manage the financials to keep their homes once they acquire them. To that end, she’s been working with Dr. Karin Edwards, president of Portland Community College’s Cascade campus to come up with a plan for further education.


“One of the things I would like to be doing for residents and new homeowners is making sure they’ve got economic stability behind them,” Horner said. “The minute there’s an uptick in downsizing or a recession occurs…there are certain groups of people who are historically displaced.”


That includes people of color, women and older people who are “always on the receiving end, and the first ones out the door,” she said. “My idea is to work with community college districts to see if we can get folks trained in different career paths so they can have a backup plan.”


Horner served previously as executive director of economic development for the city of Oxnard, Calif. but her department was eliminated after California decided to pull redevelopment funds from cities to help balance its budget.


That hurt California, she said, because 20 percent of property tax revenue went toward affordable housing, and now it can’t catch up with the demand. But PCRI is working hard to win that battle in Portland and the state of Oregon.


“We are a nonprofit affordable housing entity and we lead in this industry for Portland, especially when you’re talking about getting communities of color into affordable housing, PCRI is leading the way,” she said. “We sort of set the tone on how affordable housing should be developed in this community.”


PCRI builds and manages multi-family properties for rental and buys, develops and sells condos and houses to expand home ownership. Work is almost complete on a 70-unit apartment complex in the 6000 block of Northeast Martin Luther King Boulevard for income-restricted rentals, and over the years the organization has bought hundreds of homes and sold them to low-income residents at below market prices.


Down payment assistance to help future homeowners can come after applicants complete programs that PCRI offers.


“We don’t just pick people and put them into homes, we prepare them for home ownership that teaches people how to save and get into home ownership, even if it takes a couple of years,” Horner said.


According to its website, PCRI “will preserve and manage affordable, high quality, scattered site, single family homes; expand and manage our portfolio of small multiplexes; and acquire/develop multi-family housing to preserve affordable housing choices in our community.”


That overall goal includes Pathway 1000, which will take on new life once Horner hires a new housing director early this year.


“Once that person is hired we will be moving full steam ahead,” she said. “We’re looking within our portfolio for land that could be used to construct new units.”


Horner has 42 employees at present, and though they’ve almost outgrown their location in a historic house at 6329 N.E. Martin Luther King Blvd., she says they’re going to try and stay put.


“We are a landmark and destination place for people of color and those who have had challenges in terms of creating home ownership and home stability,” she said. “This is a place where people come and shed their tears over this table and we tell you how to correct your situation and get ready for either home ownership or how to get into our affordable rental projects. It’s beautiful.”


In addition to overseeing the daily operations of PCRI, which manages over 700 units of affordable housing, Horner now puts renewed emphasis on Pathway 1000, a project with an estimated cost of $250 million that is projected to provide $875 million in economic impact for communities of color and will encourage generational wealth.


Building housing is very expensive because of the high cost of land, she said, pointing to the collaboration and partnerships needed to get it done, along with a lot of creative thinking.


Horner said one new way to add housing stock that’s gaining momentum is for homeowners to build ADUs, or additional dwelling units, on their property.


“We’re working with Hacienda, another nonprofit housing team, and other nonprofits to build ADUs onto properties, starting with a prototype of 527 square feet, the dollar amount that pencils out to a little more than $100,000 to construct that unit,” she said. “But what we’re trying to do is get that property owner trained up and in reality being an entrepreneur…we think that individual homeowner will receive about $200 a month income stream.”


Portland is way ahead of other communities in battling the housing crisis, Horner said, and one reason is that the city realizes its past mistakes in displacing communities of color in the name of “progress.”


“This organization started in 1994 and has been through some very challenging things that happened to the African American community,” Horner said. “The city’s recognized that and that to me is rare and an oddity, that the city recognizes that displacement, that mistakes have been made, and so they have a commitment to correct that. That’s what Pathway 1000 speaks to.”


To learn more about PCRI, call 503-288-2923 or log onto pcrihome.org.




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