Native American community development project breaks ground in SE Portland

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Mike Westling
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MONDAY: Native American community development project breaks ground in SE Portland

NAYA Generations combines early learning center, community center, intergenerational housing

 

Portland, Ore.—Community members gathered in southeast Portland Monday to break ground on the first phase of NAYA Generations, a comprehensive community development project designed around an early learning center, community longhouse, and intergenerational housing community in the Native American tradition. The project will bring foster children, permanent families, and elders together into a mutually supportive and service-intensive community.

Architectural renderings of the Generations project can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/NAYAgenerations

“The Generations project, an intergenerational housing community, is important to the Portland Native community because Native children are overrepresented in the State’s Foster Care system,” said Rey Espana, deputy director of the NAYA Family Center. “This project is a positive response to withdraw Native children from the foster care system and into permanent homes for adoption and or permanent guardianship.”

One in five Native American children in Multnomah County is in child welfare custody—a rate 26 times higher than white children. Native American youth are more likely to age out of foster care, experience homelessness, drop out of high school, fail to obtain a diploma, and experience mental health and wellness issues. The Portland Native American community, working with private and public partners, has devised NAYA Generations as an intervention—a place to provide Native American foster youth homes, families, and support to break the cycle of child welfare removal in our community.

In addition to barriers related to poverty levels and affordable housing, Native children are less likely to have access to early childhood education, leading to educational disparities that ultimately lead to average high school graduation rates well below the average levels for Portland Public Schools. The overall graduation rate for students in Portland Public Schools is 74%, while it is 51% for Native American students.

“Finding permanent, loving homes for children in foster care dramatically improves their opportunities and outcomes in life,” said City Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “The intergenerational model that Generations will use fosters healthy family dynamics, where elders live among adoptive families who can help nurture them, and in turn they are able to care for the children and families.”

NAYA’s partners in this effort include Portland Public Schools and the City of Portland, as well as Guardian Real Estate Services, the Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Child Development Coalition, Oregon Housing and Community Services, Multnomah County, Lents Neighborhood Association, Capital Pacific Bank, Carleton Hart Architecture, Meyer Memorial Trust, Enterprise Community Partners, JP Morgan Chase and LMC Construction.

“This new community represents years of hard work and collaboration among many,” said Thomas Brenneke, president of Guardian Real Estate Services. “It is an example of Guardian’s deep commitment to creative affordable housing concepts and the pursuit of public-private partnerships to make them happen.”

NAYA Generations’ permanent, community-supportive homes for vulnerable children in the foster care system prepares the next generation of Portland Native children for cultural, social, educational, and economic success.

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