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Standard wall raising


Standard Insurance and Habitat for Humanity volunteers, and future occupants, raise one wall of a home in the ten-unit complex being built in east Portland.
Mid-county Memo photo/Tim E. Curran
In April, at the Orchards Project in southeast Portland, the Standard Insurance Company officially launched a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to help build two new homes for families in need.

To celebrate the partnership, Greg Ness, chairman, president and CEO of The Standard, was joined by more than 30 members of The Standard's leadership team, who spent the day working at the east Portland build site where they raised the first wall of a home.

In remarks to volunteers, Habitat for Humanity Portland Metro/East Executive Director Steve Messinetti said Portland ranks in the top 10 cities with the least amount of affordable housing. “We can't be a great city if half our families can't afford to live here,” he said. “Unfortunately in our city, work is not working.”
A Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East development, the Orchards is a ten-home subdivision located at 420 SE 106th Ave, just behind Sayler's Old Country Kitchen. Planned for an October completion, the complex will house 10 families, including 28 children.

The two-story homes, between 1,100 and 1,300 square feet, are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certified green buildings and Americans with Disabilities Act accessible.

Families have to put in at least 500 hours of sweat equity constructing theirs and their neighbors' new homes.

Habitat for Humanity is not only the builder, but also the lender, and secured city funding to buy the property.

In August, ten well-qualified families will buy these homes with a zero percent interest rate mortgage.

“We have a very careful selection process,” Messinetti said. “Our families make between 20 and 30 thousand a year,” he added. “They have to meet our income and financial criteria and really show that they are going to be great partners.” He said that out of more than 400 applicants, only 23 were selected last year. Messinetti said less than 30 percent of family income goes toward paying the mortgage.

From April through October 2013, The Standard encourages its more than 2,000 Oregon employees to participate in the build.

Standard employees receive eight hours of paid time off to participate in the project as an additional incentive. Habitat for Humanity is also the beneficiary of The Standard's 2013 Jeans Day program, which gives employees the opportunity to wear jeans to work on Fridays in exchange for a donation of $100.

Through the program's dollar-for-dollar match, more than $175,000 has been raised to support this project.

Ruben Sanchez, one of the future occupants, who has already put in hundreds of hours at the job site, said, “I really appreciate you guys helping us build our home. Finally, I am going to have a safe home where I can live with my mom and dad and brother; thank you very much.”

Close to amenities like Multnomah County Library's Midland Branch, the East Portland Community Center, light rail and bus lines, the new residents can access everyday needs with plenty of nearby options for groceries, shopping, health and other services.

With four schools located within a mile of their future homes - Floyd Light Middle School is only four blocks away - Habitat kids can choose to walk or bike to school.

Families can take advantage of parks located within a mile of the parcel, including soccer and softball fields, playgrounds, picnic tables, a dog park, a water feature for hot summer days and a community garden.
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