You’ll find a Veteran sleeping on the streets of Portland nearly every night. Do Good Multnomah was founded to help each of them find permanent supportive housing and supportive services.
Chris Aiosa, Founder and Executive Director of Do Good Multnomah, had a vision to create Supporting Housing for underserved Veterans, focusing on those of color, women, and extremely-low income. A home should give residents a sense of stability, cater to their nuanced needs, and be environmentally sustainable. And he wanted to do this without assuming any debt.
Around 2018, on the corner of 146th and E Burnside in Portland, a strategic execution of a complicated development began. (Are there any other kinds?)
Knowing Home First has a mission of getting people into a good space, one of our partner investors sold us the land that became The Bria.
Typically, affordable housing projects require three major types of financing; debt from a bank, equity from a tax credit investor, and gap funding, usually from a public agency. For the Bria, equity and debt were no problem, thanks to our partners at CREA and Key Bank. The gap funds posed a bit of a problem. We tried several times to win awards, but we lost, to really great projects. And so, we decided to try and build the Bria without gap funding, by being ruthlessly efficient.
Things got a bit more complicated, given that the Bria was being underwritten and planning or groundbreaking during a challenging time in US and Portland history (Spring, 2020). The combination of circumstances resulted in a loss of nearly $2,000,000 from our development budget before closing. We pressed on.
"The Bria is proof that there is a place in affordable housing development for efficiency and simplicity. It is possible to build a beautiful, sustainable building while prioritizing cost containment. Sometimes, you just need a little help from your friends."
Is one bite at a time. Facing serious challenges, we did what we've always done at Home First; we focused on our vision, access to a safe, affordable home for every person in the Northwest, and found a way to make it work, with a little help from our friends.
Through Key Bank, we secured long term financing at favorable terms through the Fannie Mae MTEB program. Beaudin Construction helped us maximize available resources by creating a construction budget and schedule that was aggressive but achievable. CREA stayed flexible and supportive as the project evolved. METRO came in at the last moment with a $500,000 grant. Tony Jones at Rubitone Development Services was the Bria's eyes and ears throughout construction. Every member of the HFD team contributed in some way.
Our confidence in building the Bria with such challenging circumstances was informed the fact that our simple design is a feature, not a bug. Our efficient developments result from an iterative design process: an evolution from our first project many years ago up to this one. We've built comparable units before, so we know the design, specs, architect, the neighborhood, how the general contractor operates, and how to make it better than the last.
More than anything, The Bria is a reflection of our will to get more people in safe and affordable homes in the Northwest, however necessary. Through a pandemic, with minimal public funding, almost no margin for error, and a total budget of less than $20M, we were able to build 116 quality, air-conditioned units with stainless appliances, quartz counters, 75 parking spaces at Earth Advantage Gold green building standards.
With our strategic execution, we brought almost twice as many homes to people in need because getting people in a good space is our purpose. As an owner of Home First, that’s all it’s really about.
We'll never build enough supply to meet the demand for affordable housing in Oregon without economies of scale. While financing solutions will always differ depending on market conditions, the Bria demonstrates that a simplified design and capital stack can accelerate unit development and delivery.