Teaming up for the fourth annual Day of Service, the ReBuilding Center and the African American Alliance for Home Ownership came together with over 40 volunteers to provide home repairs for low-income and long-time homeowners in North and Northeast Portland.
Over the past few decades, the Boise neighborhood of North Portland—part of the historic heart of Portland’s Black community in the broader Albina neighborhood—has seen drastic changes to its population. According to the US Census Bureau, Boise’s Black population fell from 84% in 1970 to 26% in 2010 to an estimated 14.4% as of 2017. Median incomes have increased by over 20% since 2000, and the median home price has risen from around $200,000 in 2010 to about $460,000 in 2017. Surrounding neighborhoods have experienced similar changes.
The ReBuilding Center opened on North Mississippi Avenue in 2000 with a mission to build community resilience by making affordable reclaimed home improvement materials and repair skills accessible to all. The Day of Service lives into this mission by providing home repairs to homeowners who are unable to perform or pay for the repairs independently. Over the past few years, the ReBuilding Center has seen these improvements help homeowners maintain and secure their homes in ever-changing neighborhoods.
This year, we served nine homeowners in North and Northeast Portland. Repairs included removal and repair of staircases, overgrown yard debris clean-up, lighting repairs, washer replacements, and so much more. While tasks were relatively small, they make a huge difference.
Charlene has lived in her North Portland home for 44 years. She reflected on the changes in the neighborhood and the effects they have: “I can’t afford to stay and I can’t afford to leave. I am stuck, but I am very appreciative of the work the Day of Service provides. It makes it easier.” This was the second year, we were able to provide repairs to Charlene’s home. This year we assisted Charlene by replacing old light fixtures and rebuilding rotting stairs.
Just a few blocks over, we assisted Robert with a sink replacement and fence repairs. Robert expressed similar sentiments as Charlene. He joked, “I’ve been here too long,” before revealing that he has lived in his home in North Portland for 33 years, but has lived in the neighborhood his entire life. Robert is a long-time ReBuilding Center customer, but is no longer able to complete many of his own repairs. He expressed gratitude for the work that was being completed and explained how he keeps a positive attitude, despite hardships: “There is no need to worry about yesterday. As long as I wake up today, that is all that matters. That is what I focus on.”
Year after year, the Day of Service, exceeds our expectations of what can be accomplished in one big day of repairs and community building. A huge thank you to every volunteer and organization involved this year. The 2019 Day of Service was sponsored by Lovett Deconstruction, Neil Kelly Company, Otis Construction, Inc., and Portland Water Bureau. Additionally, the Community Energy Project was a new service provider partner this year.
And finally, check out more photos from the day!
If you would like to be involved in next year’s Day of Service, sign up for our newsletter and keep an eye out for updates!