News Archive

Save Our AmeriCorps Program

Here in Portland, we are in danger of having to significantly cut our homebuilding. Why? Since, 2010, funding for national service has been slashed by 8%, meaning we are at risk of losing a vital portion of our team.

25% of Portland and Gresham’s Habitat team are AmeriCorps members.The AmeriCorps program is part of our nation’s federal agency that supports national service programs and volunteers.

It cannot be expressed enough just how important these dedicated young people are to helping Habitat fulfill our mission. We simply could not be the organization we are today without the AmeriCorps program. The program consists of predominately young people – between the ages of 18-24 – who want the opportunity to give back to their community with their own specialized talents, while earning modest benefits.

Currently, six of Habitat’s AmeriCorps members are on our build sites, leading crews of volunteers, businesses and future homeowners. They are the backbone of our homebuilding and their services are one of the reasons we can build and sell 30 homes a year to hardworking families in need. Our affiliate also has three AmeriCorps members working with the Homeownership and Volunteer departments, facilitating the family selection process and helping to grow our volunteer base.

And it’s not just Habitat’s future at stake. National service provides grants to more than 70,000 national and local nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, schools and municipal agencies. We must let federal policymakers understand just how vital national service programs are, and what would happen if funding for these programs was eliminated.

Will you join us by sending the attached letter to our senators and representatives in support of national service funding? The future of our community depends on it.

With Gratitude,

Steve Messinetti
President and CEO
Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East

Trek To El Salvador with Habitat Staff and Volunteers!

Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East has built over 260 homes in the Portland Metro area, but did you know that our affiliate has also built over 260 homes worldwide? To help support the work of Habitat for Humanity International, our affiliate tithes 10% of undesignated contributions to Habitat affiliates in El Salvador and Ethiopia.

And this fall, our affiliate is planning a Global Village trip to visit our Habitat partners in El Salvador, and we want you to join! The Global Village trip is September 20 through  28, 2014 and will include a week of service, building homes with Habitat families.

If you are interested in learning more or joining the Global Village trip to El Salvador, RSVP to Matina Kauffman at or 503.287.9529 x22 to attend a one-hour information meeting.

Global Village Trip to El Salvador – Information Meeting

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Habitat for Humanity
1478 NE Killingsworth Street
Portland, Oregon 97211

Support Habitat While You Shop at or Fred Meyer

Did you know you can help support Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East by shopping? Two great retailers, and Fred Meyer, feature programs that give customers a platform to support their favorite nonprofit organizations while they buy the things they need.

You can help build safe, affordable homes when you shop at local Fred Meyer stores with your Fred Meyer Rewards Card.

Sign up for the Community Rewards program by linking your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East at

You can search for us by our name or by our non-profit number 92307.

Every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East earn a donation!

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East at no cost to you!

When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same prices, selection and shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to your designated charitable organization.

You can link your account Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East by visiting
Link Your Rewards Card! Shop AmazonSmile!

Four AmeriCorps Join Building Efforts in Portland and Gresham

Habitat is proud to welcome four new AmeriCorps members to the Portland/Metro East affiliate! Jessica, Amanda, Pearce and Reed have all dedicated themselves to serving 10.5 months, working to help eliminate poverty housing in Portland and Gresham, and expanding our affiliate’s AmeriCorps strength to nine members!

The AmeriCorps program is part of our nation’s federal agency that supports national service programs and volunteers.  The program consists of predominately young people – between the ages of 18-24 – who want the opportunity to give back to their community with their own specialized talents, while earning modest benefits.

AmeriCorps members serve in a variety of roles within Habitat. Whether they are engaging communities, building homes, leading volunteers, raising resources or developing new programs, AmeriCorps members help Habitat affiliates operate more efficiently and effectively. Most importantly, members help us to serve more families.

From left to right.

Jessica Jazdzewski holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree with experience in urban planning and has a passion for empowering families who are most vulnerable in our community. Jessica has volunteered for causes in her community since she was a child and believes helping others is the most basic form of citizenship. She has been a Habitat volunteer at build sites in Oregon and Texas and has found working alongside future homeowners to be truly inspiring. Jessica’s AmeriCorps service as a Home Repair Program Specialist will help boost Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative in the Cully.

Reed Hauser is the perfect Jack-of-all-trades to serve as Habitat’s AmeriCorps NRI Construction Crew Leader. Reed is world traveled and has spent time as a construction assistant in southern California, as an intern with The Clinton Foundation and volunteered as a case worker during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy for HOPE Coalition America. We are glad to have him as a part of our NRI construction team!

Amanda Adams uses her personal experiences to be a fierce advocate of education and sustainability in her community. Having moved around to several parts of the United States as a child, she is able to understand the importance of permanent, stable housing and has long been a supporter of Habitat’s mission. With a Human Development and Family Sciences degree from Oregon State University, Amanda brings plenty of experience building positive relationships with the people she works with. We are so proud to welcome Amanda as Habitat’s Volunteer Engagement Specialist, assisting volunteers and groups to fully understand the impact of their contribution.

Pearce Whitehead recently graduated from Portland State University with a degree in Sociology and has experience with sustainable urban development. Pearce’s passion is helping others create change that has positive effects on the community. Habitat welcomes Pearce to the construction team as an AmeriCorps Construction Supervisor, leading teams of volunteers on the construction site to build homes alongside future homeowners.

Please help us welcome these four volunteers and thank them for their dedication to our community!

Dulal Family Raises Walls on Future Home

With help from Jason Drews and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Ganga and Chhali Dulal raised the walls on their future home in southeast Portland last month. Ganga and Chhali have dreamed of a stable place to call home for many years. Originally from Bhutan, the couple lived in refugee camps in Nepal for 18 years before finally coming to the United States in 2011 to create a better life for their family.

However, once in the United States challenges still arose. Their four year old son was diagnosed with autism, causing the Dulals to make the tough decision to have Chhali stay home and provide the constant care their son. The couple also has a one-year-old daughter that Chhali cares for. Because of this, Ganga is the sole income provider, working many hours as an operator for a medical device manufacturer.

In this tight rental market, decent housing is hard to afford, especially on one income. Their current apartment is small, has mold and leaking plumbing. It is dark and not an ideal place to raise kids, let alone a child with a disability.

“Since my son needs constant care, Chhali must stay home,” said Ganga. “It is impossible to purchase a home with just one of us working. But with Habitat, owning a home became possible.”

Ganga and Chhali have been hard at work putting in their 500 hours of sweat equity, and their excitement to be in the program cannot be contained.

“I jumped in the air when I learned I was accepted,” said Ganga. “By owning a home my children don’t have to move frequently and stability will bring much to their lives. Being a homeowner makes me feel free from so many limitations. I am independent and confident about our future.”

You can provide a hand up to local families, like the Dulal family, by making a donation now.

Support Habitat on Your Oregon Tax Form

Are you paying taxes in Oregon? Consider a charitable donation to Habitat for Humanity by designating your tax refunds!

Last year Habitat affiliates in Oregon provided affordable homeownership and repairs to 127 hardworking families in Oregon. Of these families, 85 received the keys to homes that they helped to build and are purchasing from Habitat with a 0%-interest mortgage.

With each mortgage payment, the generosity of volunteers, donors and in-kind contributors will be paid forward for years to come.

Here’s how:

  • Filing your own taxes? Just enter charity code “1″ on line 66a of your Oregon Tax Form. Then enter your donation amount on 66b.
  • Having your taxes prepared for you? Let your tax preparer know that you would like to give to Habitat through the Oregon Charitable Checkoff.

Loe Family Keeps Loved Ones Under One Roof

Housing can mean different things to people in different circumstances. And in the case of the Loe family, the home and new life they will soon enjoy is nothing short of a miraculous change – one that Habitat for Humanity is excited to partner on.

The Loe family consists of Poe Loe, his wife Heh Gay, their two-year-old daughter, another child on the way and Poe’s brother Kaw Shwe. In addition there are Poe’s mother and father, both physically handicapped, who will make up the multi-generational family living in the home. In 2008, they came to the United States as refugees through Thailand.

Originally from a small village in Burma, Poe was eight years old when his family was forced to flee from their village. The family demonstrated great strength and endurance living in the jungle for six months after fleeing, finally making their way to a refugee camp in Thailand. Two years later, both his mother and father suffered strokes. Medical care was nearly nonexistent inside the camps and they were unable to get the treatment they needed. Both parents remain handicapped today.

“At 12 years old, I went to work in the fields to support my family,” said Poe. “I worked like this for the next 11 years.”

Now in the United States, he continues to work and strive toward providing his family a life of security, health and now, education for his kids.

Kaw, Poe’s younger brother has also worked hard toward their dream of owning a safe place to call home. He is a cook and will be a cosigner on the 0%-interest Habitat mortgage.

Heh cares full-time for her two handicapped in-laws and her daughter. She manages to handle all their contrasting needs and sees the value of Habitat in this way.

“I will be able to provide a clean and healthy environment for my children to grow up,” said Heh. “My dream of having enough room for everyone, with a garden for growing food and flowers, is finally coming true!”

You can provide a hand up to local families, like the Loe family, by making a donation now.

Breaking Ground in Hillsdale

Located off southwest Capitol Hill Road, Habitat’s Trillium Court will be the future home for seven families, including 21 children. The Trillium Court community, located in the Hillsdale neighborhood, marks the first time Habitat will build homes on Portland’s westside, helping to mobilize a new community, establish new partnerships and reach more families in need throughout the Portland Metro area.

An ideal location for kids to grow up, Trillium Court homeowners will be within walking distance of schools – including Wilson High School – multiple bus lines, parks, churches and a large green area adjacent to the homes. Three of the seven families are currently renting housing in the Hillsdale neighborhood and are excited for the opportunity to purchase a home in their community and keep their children in their current schools. Each family has already started their 500 hours of sweat equity and signed up for educational workshops to prepare them to be successful homeowners.

These seven homes will be built at certified platinum Earth Advantage levels, including energy efficient air ventilation systems to ensure indoor air quality is high with minimum energy expenditure. Not only will the mortgages be affordable for these hardworking families, but their energy costs will also be low. The estimated heating and cooling costs are as low as $175 a year for the two-bedroom homes and as low as $316 a year for the largest home with five bedrooms.

Construction staff is ready to pour foundations and begin basic infrastructure as soon as building permits are approved, which is estimated to be mid-April. As the Trillium Court site ramps up, Habitat will need volunteers starting in August, with the goal of doing the finishing touches in the spring of 2015.

To learn more about how you can get involved at Trillium Court, contact Tor Ostrom at

Making Great Strides in Cully

Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East kicked off our new Home Repair and Preservation Program last September with Rock the Block, our two-day home improvement event. With the support of community members, new and longtime Habitat volunteers, and our presenting sponsor, Lowe’s, we completed painting and minor repairs on five homes in our Cully neighborhood focus area.

In addition, the affiliate took on two community improvement projects, giving the exterior doors at Scott Elementary a fresh coat of paint and filling the potholes on an unpaved section of northeast 68th Avenue with gravel and asphalt. This weekend of fun, hard work and community building successfully established Habitat’s presence in the Cully neighborhood and raised awareness about our new initiative.

Homeowner Josie JensenSince Rock the Block, we’ve reached our goal of completing critical home repairs and smaller improvement projects on 16 homes by the end of February, as well as rehabbing six unoccupied properties for sale through our traditional new homeownership model. Work on owner-occupied homes has included new roofs, gutters, windows and insulation on several homes in Cully, as well as lead paint scraping, new paint, siding repair and yard cleanup, among other projects.

We are currently in the process of reviewing our selection criteria for the Home Repair and Preservation Program and planning for the next round of projects. We are excited to continue working to revitalize Cully by partnering with low-income homeowners to complete needed repairs and maintenance.

Habitat has recently been named a fourth member of the Living Cully coalition, and we look forward to working with Hacienda CDC, Native American Youth and Family Center, and Verde on a variety of economic and community development initiatives in the coming years.

Homeowner Josie Jensen helped complete repairs to her Cully home through Habitat’s NRI program, including a new coat of paint and gutters. Photo courtesy of Sarah Galbraith.

Read more about Habitat’s partnership with Living Cully.

Local Builders Step Up for 2014 Home Builders Blitz

This summer, four local, professional home builders are teaming up with Habitat to do something extraordinary – build four homes in only 14 days! Built from the ground up during the nationwide 2014 Home Builders Blitz, over 300 homes will rise simultaneously as a testament to the industry’s commitment to making our communities stronger.

The Home Builders Blitz was started in 2002 by Tom Gipson, a professional home builder in Raleigh, N.C., who supported Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to eliminate poverty housing in his community. Gipson rallied other local builders for an accelerated build, which was so successful that Habitat for Humanity International decided to promote it as a nationwide event, taking place every two years. This year, over 1200 people will escape substandard housing and become proud Habitat homeowners as a result of these generous builders.

Here in Portland, Fish Construction NW, Neil Kelly with PARR Lumber, Noyes Development Co. and Schumacher Custom Homes are inviting their local trades contractors and suppliers to join them by donating labor and materials to get these homes built in two weeks at Habitat’s southeast 171st and Division community.

“The energy these four builders are bringing to this build speaks volumes about their desire to help a local family escape poverty and build a future for their kids,” said Erika Kennel, VP of Resource Development at Habitat.

The Home Builders Blitz is a tribute to what it can look like when local business owners lead the charge to pull together a team that can do something much larger than what each small business could do alone.

“We have had builders join us in the hardest of times and in the best of times,” said Kennel. “The desire to help always wins out whether it was the lean profit margins of 2010 or fully booked schedules as the industry rebounds.”

We invite you to learn more about these amazing local home builders at and follow the progress in June as the four homes take shape during this exciting event. If your company is interested in helping to underwrite this event, please email

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