Blackburn Center in Portland, OR, has won a 2020 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Large Metropolitan Category (city population 300,000 or more).

One of the first of its kind, Blackburn Center, developed by Central City Concern (CCC), is an integrated Housing and Healthcare Facility the provides 175 affordable homes co-located with health, wellness, employment and other supportive systems. In addition to a 40,000 square foot health care facility and pharmacy and ground-floor retail space, the building provides four floors of affordable housing. Of the total, 124 homes were financed using equity provided by US Bank through the 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit), and an additional 51 units provide housing for homeless individuals exiting hospital care through CCC’s Recuperative Care Program. Blackburn Center’s innovative, evidence-based and client-centered approach is a national model for the transformative impact of integrating health and housing at both the individual and community levels.

Blackburn Center employs an on-site resident services coordinator and provides numerous services, including health care, substance use disorder treatment, mental health treatment (including counseling, group therapy, and case management), Medicaid enrollment, wellness classes, and employment and housing services. Blackburn Center is also certified Earth Advantage Platinum, incorporating both resiliency and green building principles to provide a healthy environment for its occupants. Additionally, 16 homes are accessible units, of which eight also provide features for residents who are hearing and vision impaired, and two homes are type A units.

The building layout reflects patients’ journeys to healing. The ground floor is a commons area for check-in, registration, and services, with a pharmacy and teaching kitchen. Level Two is the main clinic that serves the public, as well as the entire housing program. Level Three serves Recuperative Care Program recipients. Levels Four and Five are single-room occupancy with shared services and facilities. Studios on Level Six hold permanent housing, supporting residents who are nearly ready to live on their own.

Blackburn Center is located adjacent to Portland’s MAX light rail transit with a stop just steps from the front door, providing excellent access to downtown Portland and other areas of employment and educational opportunity throughout the Portland Metro Region. It is also within a half-mile of a public library and park, and within one mile of two major grocery stores.

Congressional Recognition

Recognition from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Senator Wyden shared a congratulatory video in 2021 for the AHTCC’s 2021 Fall Meeting and Edson Awards, in which he stated, “The Blackburn Center really does terrific work day in and day out to provide affordable homes and other supportive resources to Oregonians that depend on them. Their hard work is the gold standard for addressing the country’s crisis of housing affordability.”

Senator Wyden provided also provided a congratulatory video on 2020, the year in which Blackburn Center won their award, stating, “A big congratulations to Central City Concern, particularly for winning the Edson Award for Tax [Credit] Excellence. Day in and day out Central City Concern delivers for our community. It understands the importance of shelter but also how important the wrap-around services are.”

Statement from U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

“Oregon was experiencing a housing crisis long before the coronavirus hit,” said Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). “And now, at a time when our communities need to be staying home and doing everything they can to flatten the curve of infection, putting a safe roof over Oregonians’ heads is even more urgent. I’m thankful for Blackburn Center’s invaluable contributions to addressing the lack of affordable housing in Portland, and for their work connecting some of the city’s most vulnerable residents with health, wellness, employment, and other resources over the years.”

Statement from U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03)

“There is no more deserving organization to receive an Edson Award than Central City Concern,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03) in 2020. “For more than 40 years, Central City Concern has provided hope and healing to countless people in our community through their affordable housing, health care, and employment programs. By co-locating housing and health care, the Blackburn Center is improving social determinants of health and providing a model for every community across the country.”

In 2021, Representative Blumenauer also provided a congratulatory video, below.

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