Nesika Illahee is a three-story wood-framed building comprising 59 apartments: 13 studio units, 30 one-bedrooms, nine two-bedrooms, and seven three-bedroom apartments. Through a partnership with the Native American Youth and Family Center, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and the Native American Rehabilitation Association, the project will focus on the needs of the Native community, an unacknowledged, underserved, and underrepresented population.
Nationally, Native Americans face the deepest housing disparities, and are four times more likely to become homeless than white individuals are. An estimated 54,000 Native Americans live in the Portland region. Median family income of Native Americans in the Portland area is 54 to 70 percent of that of white families in the area. As seen nationally, the 2019 official count of homelessness in Portland showed that the greatest racial disparity is experienced by Native Americans, and that while homelessness decreased since 2017 for most other populations, it increased among Native Americans.
The project’s goals are to address disparities in accessing affordable housing for Native Americans, especially homeless and low-income families; provide culturally specific services to residents; and provide medical, dental, and behavioral health care for all residents.
The project is designed to be warm, welcoming, and appropriate within its geographical context. The use of wood is incorporated throughout the plaza, interior common areas, and dwelling units as well. Amenities were incorporated in the building to enrich residents’ lives, and include laundry rooms, support service offices, a bike room, a community garden, a community room with kitchen, and an exterior plaza.
The concept of storytelling is central to the design of the project. Opportunities for carved wood columns, painted murals, and additional Native artwork have been incorporated. The lobby, community room, and outdoor plaza have been designed to encourage storytelling by the community’s residents.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Developers and owners: Community Development Partners and Native American Youth and Family Services
Partners: The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest