Bienestar held an opening celebration to welcome 22 farmworker families to their new homes at Juniper Gardens II Apartments in Forest Grove on Wednesday. The new construction multifamily project was developed by Bienestar, a nonprofit community development corporation providing affordable housing and resident services for 502 working poor families in Aloha, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Hillsboro and Scappoose. Bienestar’s mission is to build housing, hope and futures for the well-being of working families and seniors.
“Housing communities like this create a network of support for some of the most vulnerable members of our community and give them the tools to move beyond their circumstances,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Our country benefits when all people have a chance to succeed, and programs like Juniper Gardens help them find stable housing and work. This stability is good for business and encourages community investment, leading to greater overall prosperity for the region.”
This project is the second phase of the new construction project. Phase I was completed in 2012 and provides affordable farmworker housing for 24 families. The site also offers almost two acres that are devoted to community garden spaces for the residents. Anticipating LEED GOLD certification, this phase of the project consists of attractive townhomes and flats with open space, play areas for children, a community building and laundry facilities. The project is close to several major agricultural employers, and residents will benefit from a USDA Rural Development rental subsidy that ensures low-income residents pay no more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
Bienestar has 33 years of experience in farmworker housing and currently operates five other multifamily properties for farmworker families in Washington and Columbia counties. The organization provides an extensive suite of resident service programs for its residents in its award-winning Pathways from Poverty program. Adult programs include ESL, GED, computer and financial literacy classes, community gardens, job coaching, an IDA program, nutrition classes, and the Promotores program, which provides outreach and referrals to neighbors. Youth programs include MpowR academics, science clubs, Summer Lunch & Fun, Explorador Nature Camp, Financial Fitness for Life, special events, Kids Computer Club, Education Navigation program and more.
Bienestar worked with a project team including development consultant CASA of Oregon, Scott Edwards Architecture, St. Andrews Legal Clinic, Hoffman, Stewart & Schmidt, P.C., and LMC Construction. Juniper Gardens has also received funding through the HOME funds administered by Washington County’s Office of Community Development, from the Community Housing Fund, and from the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services. Construction financing was provided through CASA of Oregon, and permanent financing is with Rural Development of USDA. The property will be managed by Cascade Management.
Bienestar was awarded a $1.5 million grant and a $1.5 million loan for the $5.7 million project by USDA Rural Development after competing nationally and being one of only eleven farm labor facilities funded in the United States in 2011. Bienestar currently owns and operates five other farmworker properties financed through USDA Rural Development’s farm labor housing program.
“The Farm Labor Housing program is designed to help domestic farm workers access good quality, affordable and supportive living conditions for their families,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker. “In rural Oregon, where the agricultural economy depends on the major contributions of farm workers, this program helps promote an environment of success and prosperity for all.”
LMC Construction was the general contractor for Juniper Gardens II and brought the project in on schedule and on budget. The project incorporated sustainable building practices, and is anticipated to receive LEED gold certification, Earth Advantage, Energy Trust of Oregon, Energy Star, and Enterprise Green Building Communities designations.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way - strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.