the salazar-ortega family

Too many families in Portland know the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck in housing that is unsafe and unaffordable, with rents rising swiftly as gentrification moves through neighborhoods.

Victor Salazar and his wife Flor Ortega have felt that struggle since they immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico twelve years ago. “We came for a better life,” Victor said, “because in our country there were just no opportunities.”

Flor is a stay-at-home mom and Victor works as a driver, but as their children grow up, they’ll need more space than an apartment can provide. But purchasing a market-rate home today in Portland is out of the question for a low-income family.

Victor and Flor both volunteer with Living Cully, an affordable housing coalition in Northeast Portland, and are a part of the Cully Housing Action Team (CHAT). Last year, they heard about Habitat for Humanity through another Living Cully volunteer. They applied, and were overjoyed when they found out they were accepted into the homeownership program. “I felt very happy” Flor said, “it’s all for my family’s benefit.”

When Habitat began looking for sponsors for the second phase of the Helensview build in Cully, a familiar name came up. Cindy and Jeff Bieker answered the call, and offered to fully sponsor the Salazar-Ortega family’s home. “It means a lot to know this young family and ours has a bond—so even before the build starts, we wanted to meet them and share a meal,” said Cindy. “It was such a joy to see our grandchild and their children meet and play! We can’t wait to see their home start to take shape this summer.”

Cindy and Jeff have been dedicated volunteers and donors with Habitat for over a decade, helping out in the office, sponsoring Habitat events, and participating in builds around the country. “The Bieker Friends and Family home sponsorship is vital,” said Lauren Johnson, Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East’s Major Gifts Officer. “The generosity and vision they share with this financial support is truly heartwarming. It’s not just making it possible for us to build this home, they are giving a hand up to a hardworking family who will soon be able to buy it, and in turn, build their community.”

The Salazar-Ortega family will move into their new home in the Helensview community when the second phase of construction is completed in early 2017. Their children will be able to grow up in a vibrant and supportive community, and a stable home that meets their needs as they grow. And because Helenview is only a few blocks from their current home, the older children won’t have to change schools ever again. ■