Welcome Nesika Illahee—PDX’s 1st Affordable Housing Project Designed for Native Americans

If you’re a resident of NE Portland you may have noticed a bright yellow apartment complex has sprung up on NE 42nd. In an unprecedented move, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (Siletz), Community Development Partners, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), and the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA NW) has collaborated to construct a 53,000 sq ft. affordable housing complex in Portland’s Cully Neighborhood.

Nesika Illahee—Cherokee for “our place” boasts 59 units, from studios to three-bedroom apartments, laundry facilities on each floor and spaces for residents to gather and host events. Inside, and out, you’ll find the walls adorned with murals and artwork. With the help of the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA), Nesika Illahee will have onsite certified drug and alcohol counselors to support tenants in recovery. NARA will also provide access for children, youth, adults, and elders to a slate of services including primary and specialty care providers, women’s health support, a diabetes program, as well as dental and mental health services.

Nesika Illahee is truly the first complex of its’ kind, having been the first to receive the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Housing Block Grant to build housing in an urban environment, rather than on reservation land. Tenant preference will go first to applicants whose head of household is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians or the household includes a minor or dependent child who is an enrolled Siletz tribal member. Second preference goes to households with at least one member enrolled in a federally recognized tribe, Alaska Natives or tribes recognized by states and included in the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act.

Review full tenant selection criteria here.

“This is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city of Portland and it’s also one of the most gentrified, and a lot of people, lower-income people and people of color, are being displaced, so this new development really puts a marker down that the community wants to remain a diverse community,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler regarding the project.

Nesika Illahee’s partnership and funding model is revolutionary. It seeks to pay the way for many more projects like it, in Portland and beyond.

To learn more about this complex and associated collaborators, head here and here. 

~Marissa Sainz

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