Join us on June 27, 11am-12pm, for Inclusive by Design: Meeting the Need for Accessible Housing, a virtual presentation to highlight Middle Housing Week!

Summer 2022 Newsletter

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Message from our Executive Director



Executive Director, Allan Lazo

As we approach the start of the summer, our Executive Director, Allan Lazo, recognizes the importance of celebrating Juneteenth and PRIDE this month.Though the communities whose freedom these two celebrations represent have faced separate struggles, they overlap in that they are made up of members of protected classes, including Black and African American people, and those who identify as LGBTQIA+.

Members of these communities fought for their civil rights over the course of many generations through countless battles to achieve legal protections based on their identities. At FHCO, we stand in alliance with members of these protected classes and seek out partner organizations who serve them.

We appreciate the opportunity to continue supporting the community organizations who we have been partnering with throughout Oregon to ensure they have the resources and fair housing knowledge to support the communities they serve.

This summer we also celebrate the new partnerships we have had the chance to create over the past quarter and the ability to reach more members of protected classes statewide and equip them with fair housing resources.

Creating New Statewide Partnerships

Jamie Gatewood and Samuel Goldberg, members of our Education & Outreach team, tabling at the recent Keys to the Culture BIPOC-centered housing festival hosted by Community Services Consortium on May 21, 2022. We are excited to be back in your neighborhoods in person again!

Oregon REALTORS®

FHCO has teamed up with Oregon REALTORS® to combat discrimination in the housing market.

This past February, we attended the Oregon REALTORS® and Oregon Mortgage Bankers Association’s first ever Fair Housing Summit, which attracted over 200 real estate professionals.

Through our partnership, we have also supported the Diversity Key Committee of the Oregon REALTORS®. The group provides education, information, and advocacy to increase fair treatment, create equitable opportunities to information and resources, and build an industry culture of belonging, contribution, and participation.

In April, LaTasha Beal, Chief Executive Officer, Principal Broker OR, Managing Broker WA Keller Williams Sunset Corridor and Diversity Key Committee member, spoke at our third-annual virtual Fair Housing Month fundraising event, Neighborhoods Are for Everyone.

We are also partnering with Keller Williams Portland Central and First American Title Company to provide this training, Juneteenth Fair Housing Class, on Friday, June 17, 2-4 p.m.

Bridges Oregon, Inc.

This past March we began partnering with Bridges Oregon, a nonprofit organization serving Oregonians who are Deaf, DeafBlind, or Hard of Hearing or who face other communication barriers. Our partner support funding has helped them meet the needs of the populations they serve by procuring items like fire alarms, and doorbells with visual aids that are needed for safety, and to restore equal access or enjoyment of housing.

Our partnership also supported the creation of a new contract position. Julie Reis, the Housing Services Coordinator, provides hands-on support for clients, like coordinating U-Haul trucks for people who need help moving due to unsafe situations.

Eliza Galaher, North & Central Coast Education & Outreach Specialist, giving a reasonable accommodation request training for new Section 8 voucher recipients at Community Action Team in St. Helens on June 9, 2022.

St. Helens Community Action Team

North and Central Coast Education & Outreach Specialist, Eliza Galaher, recently teamed up with St. Helens Community Action Team, a HUD Housing approved Housing Assistance agency, to provide reasonable accommodation request trainings for people who have just received their Section 8 vouchers.

With this knowledge in hand, when people apply for housing, they can immediately address any possible barriers that might arise, such as issues of credit, rental, or criminal history, and not have to wait to submit the reasonable accommodation request upon appeal of a housing denial. This expedites the application process and lowers the chances of available units being taken by other applicants while in the appeal process.

Neighbors Serving Under-Sheltered Neighbors

We began partnering with Neighbors Serving Under-Sheltered Neighbors (NSUSN), a community resource center located in Woodburn, Oregon, this past April. NSUSN provides hands-on housing navigation services to anyone in the community seeking support, including help talking to landlords, filling out rental applications, accessing rental subsidies, and finding open units.

Our partner support funds have allowed NSUSN to extend their hours to provide support to community members in need during their Housing Help Hours every Friday afternoon. Through our support, we are helping NSUSN fill the gap between the needs of the population they serve and traditional housing programs that often present added barriers to housing.

Upcoming Trainings

Inclusive by Design: Meeting the Need for Accessible Housing

Join us on Monday, June 27, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. as we partner with MiddleHousing.org to bring you this virtual presentation hosted by Samuel Goldberg, Education & Outreach Specialist, who focuses on land use policy.

About this presentation:

The relegalization of middle housing in Oregon has created an unprecedented opportunity to incorporate accessible units throughout cities. But our need for those units has also never been higher. This presentation will assess the current state of our accessible housing crisis, as well as lay out strategies to address it through middle housing.

This is just one event on the middle housing celebrations calendar!

You can also test your knowledge of middle housing at this upcoming trivia night, “So you think you know all about Middle Housing?” Samuel is hosting on Tuesday, June 28, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Alberta Street Pub in Portland!

Register Here

Fair Housing and Assistance Animals

Join us on Monday, July 25, 12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. for this virtual training hosted by Shyle Ruder, Director of Education & Outreach, who has taught about Fair Housing rights since 2006. She holds a Master’s Degree in Postsecondary Adult Continuing Education from PSU.

About this training:

People have the right to ask for accommodations to rules and procedures in housing due to disability. Many people living with disabilities don’t know that they have the right to request an exception to a ‘no animals’ rule if they need an assistance animal for their disability. Come to this 30-minute lunch session where we will discuss requesting reasonable accommodations for assistance animals and the types of disability verification to use with these requests.

Register Here

Meet our New Staff

Jeanette Small
(she/her/hers)

Central Oregon Education & Outreach Specialist

Q: Where are you from and what town or city do you live in now? How long have you been living where you are now?

A: I was born in Eastern Europe – the Republic of Moldova, which at the time of my birth was part of the Soviet Union. When I was 10, my family was forced to flee the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union led to military engagements between Russia and Moldova. I lived in Germany until the age of 17, when I emigrated to the U.S. in hopes of connecting with my father. While my relational aspirations were disappointed, I fell in love with the country and resided in California (San Francisco and Santa Barbara) for a combined 15 years before moving to Bend, OR with my husband and our two sons in 2013.

Q: Briefly describe your professional/educational background. 

A: I graduated from the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (magnet High School in San Francisco, CA) with a specialization in Visual Arts, and was recruited by SF MoMA for a year-long internship to create and exhibit artwork at the museum. I earned my BA in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and completed my MA and PhD work in Clinical Psychology with specialization in Somatic Psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute (SBGI).

Q: What is your favorite way to spend your time when off the clock?

A: Being active in my community, I have been aware of the increasing challenges in fair housing access. I have observed growth in my community pricing out many groups of people in addition to the challenges around discrimination due to group belonging and felt passionate about helping out in whatever way I could. Discovering that FHCO was seeking an E&O team member for Central Oregon, I felt truly fortunate about the opportunity.

Q: What is your favorite way to spend your time when off the clock?

A: Being an artist, I spend a lot of time drawing, painting, carving and creating all kinds of visual arts. Additionally, since I moved into the high desert, I have particularly come to appreciate gardening. My home is filled with potted plants, and I am routinely challenging my HOA’s requirements by allowing my lawn to grow taller and planting fruit-bearing trees and shrubs on my property.

Q: What is one thing you would like to share with our followers?

I love music and rely on sound for emotional regulation all the time. While I am not a fan of country music, I am an avid consumer of rock, hip-hop, electronic music, jazz, classical music, metal, punk, ska, …you name it.

Gina Rizk
(she/her/hers)
Portland Metro & Salem Education & Outreach Specialist

Q: Where are you from and what town or city do you live in now? How long have you been living where you are now?

A: Technically, I was born in the greater Chicago area, but my family moved to Beaverton when I was in elementary school, so I consider myself a long-time Portland Metro resident. I went to school in Beaverton, and after graduating lived in the downtown area for several years. At the beginning of the pandemic, I moved to the Irvington/Lloyd area in Northeast Portland and have been living here ever since!

Q: Briefly describe your professional/educational background.
      
A: I am a teacher by trade, graduating from PSU with my Master of Education in 2020. I worked in the Portland Public School District for two years, specifically working with schools that served traditionally marginalized students and their families. One of my primary goals while teaching was making sure all families had access to free extra-curricular enrichment, especially arts education.

Q: What is your favorite way to spend your time when off the clock?

A: In addition to being a teacher, I am also a college-educated singer! My sister and I like to play open mic events around Portland together and meet other musicians. I also have two precious rescue cats that love to chase a laser pointer and “play” the piano in my office.

Q: What sparked your desire to work for FHCO?

A. After I made the difficult decision to leave my teaching post, I knew I wanted to continue to focus my career on Social Justice and continue to serve the communities in Northeast Portland where I knew there was great need. During my time at PPS, I saw firsthand the effects of unstable housing on students’ educational experiences, and when I saw the job opening here at FHCO I knew that advocating for fair housing would be the perfect way to continue to support those students and their families.

Q: Wild card! What is one thing that you would like to share with our followers? 

A: I have a deep affection for the Portland area and am very excited to help innovate new ways to educate its residents about housing so that the city can be equally enjoyed by all.

Marlee Baker
(she/her/hers)
Portland Metro & Salem Education & Outreach Specialist

Q: Where are you from and what town or city do you live in now? How long have you been living where you are now?

A: I grew up in the Central Valley of California and moved up to Oregon to attend George Fox University when I was 18. Since graduating, I have decided to stay in my college town, Newberg, and continue to invest in the community I discovered and fell in love with here. Also, to be completely truthful, I’m not sure what other town I could move to that would also have four fantastic coffee shops within walking distance from my home – it’s a truly ideal situation.

Q: Briefly describe your professional/educational background. 

A: I have a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) and spent the past year as an intern at Just Compassion of East Washington County. At JC’s Resource Center, I helped provide resources and support to unhoused adults. While in college, I maintained several jobs in the service industry as well as on campus. For two years I worked at GFU’s Academic Resource Center as an Academic Coach and Writing Consultant, providing peer-support and education related to student success. I also worked within GFU’s Residence Life program as an Assistant Area Coordinator, where I co-supervised a team of RAs (Residence Assistants) and provided on-call mental health support to students.

Q: What sparked your desire to work for FHCO?

A: I firmly believe that houselessness and poverty are maintained by historical, economic, and social inequality, and that housing is an urgent and basic human right for all individuals. As an intern at Just Compassion, I worked in solidarity with houseless individuals to create short-term solutions to emergent and necessary needs. Individualized service provision is imperative, but the consistent stories I heard from individuals regarding eviction, high-barrier housing, and rising rent emphasized to me the need for larger, more expansive community reform. I was drawn to FHCO because I want to use education as a tool to empower local communities and citizens to protect their civil and basic human rights.

Q: What is your favorite way to spend your time when off the clock?
      
A: When I am not working, one can usually find me reading at one of Newberg’s four local coffee shops. Right now, I am making my way through “An Indigenous History of the United States” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, “The Wild Iris” by Louise Gluck, and my first “fun” book in at least four years: “The Counterclockwise Heart” by Brian Farrey.

Liz Najera
(she/her/hers)
Mid-Willamette Valley Regional Enforcement Liaison Specialist

Q: Where are you from and what town or city do you live in now? How long have you been living where you are now?

A: I am originally from the city of Anaheim in southern CA of Orange County. I moved to Oregon 17 years ago and currently reside in Corvallis, OR.

Q: Briefly describe your professional/educational background.

A: I have worked in the property management field for over 13 years. I have encountered owner/tenant/landlord violence. I have been a representative for property management companies for court proceedings. I also handled all disputes regarding all monies/paperwork/final accounting between tenants and owners.

Q: What sparked your desire to work for FHCO?

A: I was honestly tired of working for and being the bad guy, as I worked for the property owner, not the tenant. But tenants deserve to be treated with respect and as a fellow tenant, I wanted to give that courtesy to residents of these homes and apartments because without them, property management would cease to exist.

Q: What is your favorite way to spend your time when off the clock?
      
A: Singing.

Q: Wild card! What is one thing that you would like to share with our followers?

A: Your voice matters, even when it can be intimidating to use it.

Faring Bittinger
(she/her/hers)
Government Grants Reporting Manager

Q: Where are you from and what town or city do you live in now? How long have you been living where you are now?

A: I am from the Midwest and my husband is from the West Coast. He missed living in this region, so we moved back and have been living in the Tigard area for several years.

Q: Briefly describe your professional/educational background.

A: Over the past 10 years, I have been performing grants and contracts management in the government and education sectors. I graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science in Arts and Letters and a minor in Writing.

Q: What sparked your desire to work for FHCO?

A: I deeply appreciate the opportunity to join FHCO to continue my commitment to promoting housing justice, equity, and inclusion for all Oregonians.

Q: What is your favorite way to spend your time when off the clock?
      
A: I enjoy beeswax alchemy, creative writing, and growing medicinal and heirloom plants.

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