Habitat for Humanity Builds Big in Portland

Kirk Johnson chronicles the nonprofit housing builder's move into larger-scale housing development in Oregon, as it takes advantage of the depressed real estate market, and the kindness of donors.
May 13, 2012, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Although "Across most of the nation, one-at-a-time houses, financed by church suppers and staffed by volunteer hammer-swingers, are still the norm for Habitat," as the first phase of the group's largest project in Oregon history opens this spring on Portland's east side, Johnson explores the tactical shifts taking place in branches across the country. 

"Other Habitat branches have also pivoted in the recession, trying different angles in a dark time. In Nevada and Florida, for example, some Habitat groups stopped new construction entirely and shifted to renovation, buying abandoned properties in cities racked by high foreclosure rates." 

"Business leaders and housing experts said that Portland - partly through Habitat's timing in betting big in a down market, partly through a donor network led by Mr. Gray that stepped up to help even as corporate support mostly collapsed - is creating something that will resonate long after the recession: Habitat neighborhoods."

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Published on Friday, May 11, 2012 in The New York Times
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