“This has always been home.”
From Columbia Villa to New Columbia
Columbia Villa was built in North Portland in 1942 as housing for World War II shipyard workers. After the war, it became a public housing site, with 462 housing units in barracks-style buildings scattered over 82 acres. Over the years, the aging buildings and inadequate infrastructure fell woefully short of modern building standards in virtually all areas. In addition, Columbia Villa’s 1,300 low-income residents were physically, socially and economically isolated from the community.
In 1993, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) created the HOPE VI program, which offered grants to reconstruct aging public housing sites into new, mixed-income communities. HAP applied for and was awarded a $35 million grant in 2001, which was supplemented with funding from multiple other sources into a project total of $151 million.
In addition, the agency led the development of the Community Campus at New Columbia, a $20.2 million project that is anchored by a new public elementary school (Rosa Parks School), and Boys & Girls Club and includes a new wing for the City-owned recreation center (University Park Community Center).
The vision for New Columbia was to create a vibrant new neighborhood with a mix of housing types affordable to people at all income levels. New Columbia includes the following features:
- 854 housing units, including public housing, affordable rentals, senior housing, and both market rate and affordable homes for sale.
- A mix of residents, representing a variety of cultures, age groups, and income levels.
- A community-friendly design, with front porches, parks and public spaces.
- A new street grid that provides easy circulation within New Columbia and connects the community to the rest of the Portsmouth neighborhood.
- A Main Street that offers a variety of recreational, cultural and educational opportunities both for New Columbia residents and the surrounding neighborhood.