Native American Youth and Family Center
Today, local leaders celebrated the opening of a historic affordable housing project intended to provide permanent supportive housing in Portland.
Leaders including Siletz Tribal Chairman Delores Pigsley; Multnomah County Commissioners Susheela Jayapal, Sharon Meieran, and Jessica Vega Pederson; and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler; joined representatives the US Housing and Urban Development, Oregon Housing and Community Services, Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), the Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA), Home Forward, and Community Development Partners (CDP), for the ribbon cutting ceremony of Nesika Illahee, Native American Youth and Family Center’s most recent affordable housing development in Portland.
Nesika Illahee — which means “our place” in the Chinook language — offers 59 -units of affordable housing, from studio to three-bedroom apartments in the Cully Neighborhood of Portland.
Speakers throughout the one-hour program praised the historic partnerships contributing to the development’s success.
Community Development Partners CEO Eric Paine stated, “It’s been a wonderful voyage to partner with Siletz, the Native American Youth and Family Center, and the Native American Rehabilitation Association. It’s been a steep learning curve. We’ve taken multiple complex funding sources and made them exponentially more complex by putting them together. But that was really the only way we could serve the need of community and reach lower income levels.”
Siletz Tribal Chairman Pigsley concurred, “We are so appreciative of all the work that has been done to complete this facility. It’s something that the tribe could not do by itself.”
Other speakers noted that Nesika Illahee’s partnership and funding model is one that could pave the way for more systems change in Portland and beyond.
“People came together in ways they haven’t before,” said Michael Bounocore, executive director of Home Forward. “The Native population is overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness. Systems that help people come out from homelessness aren’t working for the Native community. If we keep doing things the way we’ve always done them, we’ll keep failing that community. It is the wisdom and leadership of the Native community that are showing us way to get it right.”
Commissioner Jayapal stated, “The model that this creates is for the rest of the country. This development, and the new developments that are coming, are really a bulwark against the displacement that this neighborhood has experienced. This has been ground zero for displacement of communities of color. It is developments like this that will allow us to keep those communities here where they belong.”