News Archive

2014-2015 AmeriCorps Amp up Habitat Homebuilding

2014-2015 AmeriCorps

Please help us in welcoming Habitat’s 2014-2015 AmeriCorps and Quaker Voluntary Service members! These young volunteers have agreed to almost a year of service, helping to eliminate poverty housing in the Portland Metro area. AmeriCorps and QVS members are a backbone of our affiliate and we treasure their dedication to Habitat’s mission. When you see any of these 11 wonderful volunteers at Habitat’s construction sites, at the ReStore or in our Killingsworth Street office, please stop and thank them for their commitment!

  • Ally Clendineng  Quaker Voluntary Service Administrative Support Specialist
  • Marykatherine Coyne  AmeriCorps VISTA and ReStore Development Assistant
  • Amethy Sandstrom  AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader
  • Bobbie VanTassel  AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader
  • Jerod Topliff  AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader (2nd year)
  • John Kelly  AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader
  • Kristian Jones  AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader
  • Peter Henne  AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader
  • Cory Good  AmeriCorps Deconstruction Coordinator
  • Eddie Barnhart  AmeriCorps Home Repair Program Specialist
  • Shelby Butcher  AmeriCorps Homeownership Program Assistant

About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps provides an opportunity for individuals to serve with Habitat for Humanity to help meet the housing needs of communities and families throughout the United States.

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.

Habitat for Humanity International was one of the first nonprofits to become a partner when AmeriCorps was formed in 1994. Since then, more than 7,000 Habitat AmeriCorps members have performed over 12 million hours of service, and:

  • Served more than 15,000 families throughout the United States.
  • Mobilized and engaged over 2.5 million volunteers.
  • Raised tens of millions of dollars.

About Quaker Voluntary Service

Quaker Voluntary Service equips the work and witness of Friends by providing support to a network of Quaker service communities. They support this network by providing centralized access to information about projects, and assist in the creation and distribution of resources for program development and vocational discernment. QVS assists with recruitment of potential volunteers and outreach to service partners, help with fundraising and organizational development, and support the creation of new service houses and other service opportunities.

Maximize Your Tax Savings by Donating Stocks or Bonds

Gifts of Stocks or BondsA gift of stock or mutual funds before December 31, could be your best way to maximize tax savings and meet your charitable giving goals this year. Even if your stocks have lost value since you purchased them, you can receive tremendous tax advantages. The key is in how you give the securities! Consult with your financial adviser and consider the following tips.

The Smart Way to Donate Depreciated Stock
For stocks that have lost value (depreciated) the key is to sell them first and then give the cash proceeds to Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East. You are likely to qualify to benefit tax-wise in two ways – you can take both the loss deduction and the charitable deduction.

The Smart Way to Donate Appreciated Stock 
For stocks that have increased in value (appreciated), the key to receiving tax savings is to donate the shares directly to Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East. You receive a double tax benefit by:

  • Avoiding capital gains on the profit you’ve gained, and
  • Receiving a full tax deduction for the fair market value of your gift.

Making a stock gift is easy! Simply use the brokerage information below.

For gifts of appreciated securities, please provide your broker with the following information to facilitate the transfer of shares:

Tax ID: 93-0801200
Broker: Merrill Lynch
DTC Number: 5198
Account Number: 5F4-50X87
Account Name: Habitat for Humanity Portland
Phone: 1-800-926-1111

Please remind your broker to include your name, contact information, and any special instructions for use of the gift with your transfer, otherwise we will not know who the stock donation came from. To expedite the processing of your gift, we suggest that you contact us with information about the type of stock and number of shares, as well as any special considerations you may have.

Please direct information about your gift and any other questions to Erika Kennel at 503.287.9529×16 or

Pope Francis Honored through Anonymous $50,000 Donation to Build Home for a Family in Need

Pope Francis

Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East has begun construction on a home in honor of Pope Francis. Located in southwest Portland’s Hillsdale neighborhood, the Pope Francis home is sponsored by an anonymous donor who pledged $50,000, and challenges members of the community to raise the additional funds needed to completely underwrite the cost of land and construction.

The donor is inspired by the Pope’s dedication to economic justice, equality and peace, and hopes to inspire others by inviting volunteers from local Catholic churches and schools to participate in the construction of the home from start to finish, as well as raise additional funds needed to build the home.

The donor stated the purpose of this house is:

  • To honor Pope Francis for his commitment to social justice & reinvigorating the Catholic Church
  • To provide a unifying, celebratory opportunity for both Catholic and non-Catholic volunteers to work towards a common goal (as Pope Francis says, “Work confers dignity”)
  • And to further Habitat’s mission of building and preserving homes.

Hussein/DawoodThe home will be built in partnership with the Hussein/Dawood family, and sold with a 0%-interest mortgage.

Abdulnaser Hussein, Suhair Dawood and their five children escaped the war in Iraq after their family was threatened by Al Qaeda because Abdulnaser worked for an American company. They came to America in 2010 and are currently living in overcrowded, substandard conditions.

“We are so thankful for the Habitat program and this anonymous donation,” said Abdulnaser. “Owning a home will help my children succeed in their future.”

Habitat hopes to complete the challenge and raise the final amount needed to finish the Hussein/Dawood home by the end of the year.

“We are very grateful for this sponsorship in honor of Pope Francis,” said Steve Messinetti, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East.  “We are excited to mobilize our community to volunteer and raise the additional funds needed to meet this challenge.”

To make a donation to the Pope Francis Challenge contact Erika Kennel at 503.287.9529×16 or

19 Families Selected into Homeownership Program

19 New Families Selected into Habitat's Homeownership ProgramHabitat is excited to announce the selection of 19 new families into the Homeownership Program! These 19 families include a total of 91 people—44 of which are 15 years old and under. 21% are single parent families, and 16% have at least one household member with a disability. 26% are currently living in subsidized housing, moving them up the housing continuum and freeing up space for other families in need. The average Median Household Income of these families is 43.2%.

About half of the 19 families will be building and buying their homes at Glisan Gardens, a Habitat site located on NE 165th and Glisan Street, which will be breaking ground in early 2015. The other half will be purchasing and working on rehab homes around the Portland area.

Once again, this selection round proved that we have a great need for affordable homeownership in our community. During this selection, Habitat handed out more than 400 application packets and received 126 completed applications. After financial reviews, volunteers and staff went on 56 home visits before selecting families with the greatest need for the 19 available spots in the program. These families will begin their sweat equity and homeownership education classes this fall.

Welcome and congratulations to these families who are now on their way to stable and affordable homeownership!

Apply Now for Habitat’s Rock My Block! Cully Street Improvement Contest

Get ready to roll up those sleeves and join your neighbors the morning of Saturday, October 25, to make a difference the Cully community!

Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East will host its second Rock the Block event in Cully to help residents make needed street improvements. Habitat will coordinate volunteers and provide gravel, asphalt and tools to fill potholes on two unimproved blocks. We will also be partnering with Friends of Trees to plant free yard and street trees. But we need you to tell us where this work is needed most! If you’d like to see your street improved, nominate it for Habitat’s Rock My Block! contest.

Submissions will be accepted throughout September and can include anything that makes the case for why your street should be chosen. Examples include brief stories, photos, videos, drawings, etc. Creative, empowering entries are encouraged!

All submissions should include a name, address, phone number, email address, and block address description (example: 62nd Avenue between Roselawn and Sumner). You can send your nomination to, mail it to PO Box 11527, Portland, OR 97211, or deliver it to the Habitat office located at 1478 NE Killingsworth Street.

Follow the contest as we post our favorite entries on Facebook or Twitter tagged with #habitatrockmyblock. Winners will be announced in early October.

To volunteer on the day of the event or request additional info, please contact Jessica Jazdzewski at 503.287.9529 x 30 or

Rock the Block - Before

A Cully neighborhood street plagued with pot holes and puddles.

Rock the Block - After

The same street after repairs were made during Habitat’s Rock the Block.

Tivnu Brings Student Builders to Portland


Last week nine high school graduates from around the US made their way to Portland to start a 9-month residential experience program with Tivnu: Building Justice. During this service learning gap year program participants will learn about social justice issues, study Jewish texts, and build homes with Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East.

Steve Eisenbach-Budner, Tivnu’s founder, has a long history with Habitat. After spending many years working for Portland YouthBuilders, who is also a Habitat partner, Steve knew this pairing would be a powerful and beneficial relationship for both organizations and the Portland community.

“We think this partnership is a great model of folks from different backgrounds working together,” said Steve. “One that celebrates diversity, while also producing something very tangible for the common good.”

Tivnu – the Hebrew word for build – pulls it’s inspiration from the Jewish concept of Tzedakah, which stands for justice and fairness and is often mistranslated to mean charity. Tivnu: Building Justice will put this concept into action here in Portland by expanding access to affordable housing, which they believe to be a human right and the cornerstone of a stable, dignified life full of opportunity.

As a part of this program, participants will spend four days a week on a Habitat build site, learning and applying construction skills, building alongside Habitat’s partner families, and leading volunteers on special Sunday builds. These build days will offer a more accessible volunteer experience for the Portland Jewish community. This partnership will also support the Interfaith Build home that is part of the new Trillium Court community, our first build in SW Portland.

Learn more about Tivnu: Building Justice at

Steve Messinetti Spends Weekend with The Carters

This spring my wife, April, and I accepted the invitation of a lifetime – a chance to participate in the annual Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Weekend. This gathering of about 30 Habitat for Humanity International donors and organization leaders provided the perfect environment to learn more about Habitat’s plans, and, of course, spend time with the Carters.

Hearing President Carter reflect on his life and future ambitions – yes, he still has many at the age of 89 – as well as Rosalyn’s successes destigmatizing mental illness were some of the highlights. In addition, the full day affordable housing symposium and session on Habitat’s new strategic directions were also very motivating.

Habitat has grown to be the largest nonprofit housing organization in the world, serving over 4 million people! Much of this success is attributed to the Carter’s decision to volunteer with Habitat 30 years ago, giving the fight against poverty housing a big voice. And as Habitat grows, so must the strategy to take on this fight.

This weekend addressed Habitat’s expansion for greater societal impact. For example, in many developing countries, financing for housing does not exist for low-income families. Because of this, Habitat is establishing a microfinance model called the MicroBuild Fund. Unlike Habitat’s traditional model of building, the MicroBuild Fund provides capital to financial institutions that make small loans available to low-income families for housing improvements. Considering these loans are small, with over $50 million in the fund, this is already having a huge impact.

And here in Portland, while we continue building homes in partnership with hardworking families, it’s vital that we also look at new ways to create greater impact. This means considering new, innovative approaches, policy changes, new products and teaming up with other like-minded organizations so that everyone has an opportunity to live in a safe home.

Thank you for your support in creating a metro area that is affordable for everyone.

Steve Messinetti, President and CEO

“Habitat has opened up unprecedented opportunities to cross the chasm that separates those of us who are free, safe, financially secure, well fed and housed, and influential enough to shape our own destiny from our neighbors who enjoy few, if any, of these advantages of life.”

— Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

Home Repairs Change Tune for Portland Musician

Photo courtesy of Sara Mayhew-JenkinsBeloved Portland musician, Pete Krebs, had a problem. This problem wasn’t the type to find solace in a jazzy serenade, or coded into a secret message within a new album. This problem was with the place that he has called home for over 10 years.

Built in 1929, Krebs’ Cully neighborhood home was suffering at a rhythm that even his talent couldn’t keep pace with, including lead paint and a leaking roof. On top of this, Krebs’ battle with cancer the past two years put most things in his life — including home repairs — on hold while he focused on recovery. Thankful for his restored health, Krebs now juggles paying for past medical expenses and paying for basic day-to-day needs.

When Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East launched the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) in the Cully Neighborhood last year, Krebs received a flyer in the mail that gave him new hope for his home.

“There were so many things that needed to be done around here,” said Krebs. “It was getting overwhelming and I could have never even thought about making repairs without a program like Habitat’s.”

The exterior of Krebs’ home was covered in lead paint that was flaking off, exposing the siding and wood trim to the elements. A window in the front door was broken and needed to be replaced. In addition, the existing roof was almost 15 years old and had leaks, requiring a complete removal and replacement of the shingles, flashing and five of the plywood panels underneath.

“Parts of Pete’s home had been going downhill for some time due to the age of the roof and the damage it started to cause,” said Rod Hilkiah, Habitat Construction Supervisor. “If left unchecked, these type of repairs can get costly and require more skill than the average homeowner is prepared for.”

Before and After

Pete KrebsPete Krebs

One of biggest improvements needed to Krebs’ home was one that he didn’t even know about. After inspection, insulation in the walls, attic, basement and crawl space were all below standard, which partially explained why his home was drafty and difficult to heat and keep cool.

“I knew the older windows made it hard to keep the house warm,” said Krebs. “But, I also found out the insulation was pretty bad. The upgrades are already making a difference.”

One of Habitat’s NRI goals is to assist current homeowners in the Cully neighborhood with affordable, critical home repairs, like the ones made to Krebs’ home. These repairs alleviate health and safety issues. Homeowners go through an application process to be accepted into the Habitat NRI program, followed by an evaluation of necessary repairs and costs.

Homeowners receive a 0%-interest loan for the cost of repairs and make monthly payments equal to 20% to 80% of the repair costs, depending on income. In addition, homeowners are encouraged to help make repairs alongside Habitat volunteers and the construction team. Krebs utilized the scaffolding Habitat put up outside his house to apply paint to the exterior during his free time, a task that made a big difference in appearance and protection of his home.

“I chose this shade of green myself,” said Krebs with a half-smile. “My friends picked a shade that had a more yellow and it was a little brighter, but I think this one suits me pretty well.”

With critical home repairs complete, Krebs has been able to move on with his music while also managing smaller improvements inside his home.

“I’m currently working on some long overdue paint and repairs in most of the rooms. When I’m not working on my home, I’m playing gigs around town in the evenings and teaching guitar lessons.”

For more information about Habitat’s Home Repair and Prevention Program in the Cully neighborhood, contact Jessica Jazdzewski (yaz-jev-ski) at 503.287.9529 x30 or email

Costs of Housing in Our Own Backyard

There is a lot of conversation happening around Portland’s affordability. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Portland Metro area has the highest home price increase of any city in last 10 years, even surpassing the San Francisco Bay Area! But what does the cost of housing really look like in our city?

The Simino FamilyThe median price of an apartment in Portland is $1,340. For housing to be considered affordable, it should be no more than 30% of your income. This means if you are a minimum wage worker, you would have to work 110 hours a week in order to afford Portland’s median rent. 110 hours!

In Multnomah County, a decent, affordable place to live is becoming further and further out of reach for many hardworking families. Many households are spending 50% or more of their income toward housing, forcing families to choose between paying the rent, paying for utilities or putting food on the table.

The search for affordable housing often keeps low-income families on the move. Families are forced to chase lower rents and better living conditions.

In 2012, about 27.2 percent of low-income residents in Multnomah County moved within the previous 12 month period. Often these moves put family members farther away from their workplaces, and cause children to transfer schools, which disrupts their learning and the learning of all children in the classrooms experiencing the mobility. With Portland’s rental vacancy rate being the second lowest in the nation, many families are also forced to live in substandard conditions, as there are simply no other options in their price range.

Habitat’s homeownership program is one piece of a larger solution that is needed to address Portland’s affordability. Homeownership has a unique role in the long-term strength and resiliency of communities. Through homeownership, low-income families are able to build equity and break the cycle of generational poverty.

A study by Harvard University highlights this dramatic difference in the ability to build equity between people with incomes of $20,000 who are homeowners versus those that are renters. The net worth of the low-income homeowners in this study was $72,750 versus a net worth of $900 for low-income renters, further proving the value of homeownership.

Habitat has seen families pay off their mortgages and create savings accounts, send their children to college, and even better –become advocates in their communities and for other families who need a hand-up.

As the discussion over affordability in Portland heats up, it is important to look at homeownership opportunities to make sure all our cities residents are able to afford to live here.

Foresters, KaBOOM! and Volunteers Bring Families Together with New Playground

A reflection of the bright community spirit at SE 171st and Division Street can be seen in the beautiful play area built on July 26. In less than eight hours, more than 200 volunteers from Foresters, Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East and non-profit KaBOOM! created the new play space, which will serve more than 2,000 children in the local community each year. Over its lifetime, the playground will bring more than 31,500 Portland kids one step closer to having the childhood they deserve.

“A community’s well-being starts with a child’s well-being,” said Tony Garcia, president and CEO, Foresters. “Playgrounds are important to communities, providing an open space where families spend quality time together and where children can play safely. We believe that an investment in a playground is an investment in family well-being, and we are happy to provide the Portland community with a place that families can enjoy for years to come.”

The design for the new playground is based on drawings created by neighborhood children at a special Design Day event held in May when community members met with organizers from KaBOOM! and Foresters to design their dream playground. The drawings inspired the final playground design.

“It really was a community effort,” said SB Langh, Habitat homeowner. “We created a committee, raised $4,500 and volunteered many hours building the playground. We are so thankful to KaBOOM! and Foresters for helping us create a safe area for all the kids in this neighborhood to play.”

Since 2006, Foresters, an international financial services provider, has invested over $10 million with KaBOOM! to build almost 120 playgrounds across the US and Canada by the end of 2015. Over their 15 year lifespan, these playgrounds will provide more than 3 million children and their families with an opportunity to spend quality time together and enhance family well-being.

“We are thrilled that these families will now not only have a safe place to call home, but a safe place for their kids to play and thrive,” said Steve Messinetti, president and CEO, Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East. This playground will truly complete this community.”

Foresters is a founding member of the KaBOOM! Leadership Circle – a group of organizations providing long-term guidance and support to KaBOOM! and its mission. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has been dedicated to the bold goal of ensuring that all children get the balanced and active play they need to thrive because #playmatters.

You can help 31,500 kids in Portland and Gresham have a safe place to play! Support the playground at SE 171st and Division Street by making a donation. Designate your gift to the “KaBOOM! Playground” and your funds will give these kids the joyful childhood they deserve.


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