Get to Know Your Neighbors!
Sarah Stevenson at Innovative Housing
Tell us about yourself and your business. What makes it unique?
I’m always proud to say I grew up in Portland. I love this City and feel really lucky to be able to work and raise my family here. I am the Executive Director of Innovative Housing, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing. That means we build or acquire housing, own and operate it, and we provide resident services at most of our properties to help our residents maintain their housing stability and access opportunities to improve their quality of life. IHI has housing all over the Portland metro area, from Troutdale to Washington County. We also own property outside of Portland. With the housing crisis in Portland, our work is more important than ever – fortunately, the voters in Portland approved a general bond measure this fall that will provide additional resources to address our City’s affordable housing shortages.
What do you like about being in Chinatown?
Chinatown is a vibrant, interesting part of Portland with a fascinating history and a great mix of people, businesses, and activities. IHI owns three properties here, including Musolf Manor where our main office is located. We also own the Modern Rich Apartments and the Erickson Fritz Apartments. We enjoy our diverse commercial tenants in Old Town as well – from Kasbah Moroccan restaurant to Darcelle’s and Street Roots, we think they all help contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhood.
What else do you like to do in the neighborhood, besides work?
I eat and shop. I enjoy the Chinese Garden and the Saturday Market. I love a big bowl of soup from Good Taste, my kids enjoy Golden Horse for special family dinners, and I’m a big fan of Mi Mero Mole’s quesadillas. Plus burritos, tagines, subs, pizza – there are so many delicious things to eat here! I sometimes bring my family down to First Thursday and love seeing the different art at the Erickson Gallery and other local art spaces.
How does your business contribute to the neighborhood?
We have completed historic rehabs on four really amazing buildings in the neighborhood, making them safer and more attractive. Three of them (the Rich, Fritz, and Erickson) were vacant before we bought and restored them, and we think that activating them and filling them with people who live, eat, shop, and enjoy the neighborhood are significant contributions. We are also proud of our diverse commercial tenants and are happy to support awesome local businesses. Maybe most important today, we create living spaces that people can afford in downtown Portland. Safe, affordable, accessible homes in the central city and downtown core are getting way too rare in Portland – it is our mission to help increase those opportunities, which contributes to the neighborhood and the City at large.