A HISTORY OF SERVICE
Spruce Villa has successfully served its community for more than 40 years. In 1974, Marty and Hal Warkentin opened the first “Villa” for women who were discharged from the Fairview Training Center for being “too smart” with an IQ score of 70 or more as the State redefined the threshold for those considered to be “mentally retarded” to a score of 69 or below. Fifteen women who were displaced by this change moved into this home. At that time, Spruce Villa was the only small community program to be certified as Intermediate Care Facility/Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR) in Oregon and provided services as such until 1990. The Semi-Independent Living Program, which served as many as 40 individuals, was added in 1976. In 1986, the organization accepted 21 additional individuals under the State’s “1988 Plan” in which others were moved into the community from public institutions which were closing. Six individuals were served in a new facility specifically designed for non-ambulatory individuals, appropriately named “Barrier Free”. Fifteen others were served in a multi-family apartment environment. In 1986 Spruce Villa also expanded its programs to include employment services. In 1990, Spruce Villa converted its ICF/MR certification for 22 people to a state licensed program consistent with its other programs. In 1993, the organization embarked upon an aggressive plan to procure neighborhood homes throughout the community that could provide each individual with their own bedroom and/or apartment.
This process was competed in 2001 and today includes six 5-bedroom single-family homes, one 2-bedroom and two multifamily properties that include a total of 10 individual 2-bedroom apartments. Spruce Villa’s Employment Department expanded to include Supported Employment in 1991 as a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) contractor providing opportunities for employment in integrated community-based settings. Spruce Villa now provides 35 individuals with meaningful employment opportunities through contracted services in grounds keeping/landscape maintenance, janitorial, and food packaging. Spruce also provides a full scope of services involved in the path to employment including counseling, resume development, interview training, on-the-job training, job coaching, and long-term employment supports under for the State, VR and Brokerage services within the Willamette Valley. Our “Active Oregon” program supports those who prefer to give back to the community or who have retired from employment. Currently this program supports an additional 31 individuals.
Before merging with Spruce Villa Inc. to form Integrated Supports for Living, Inc. (IS Living), Oregon Housing and Associated Services, Inc. (OHAS) had a long history making important contributions to affordable housing and specialized transportation services the Marion/Polk County area, and throughout Oregon for 50 years. Founded in 1965 by a local Methodist pastor, concerned about housing for elder members of his congregation, OHAS was incorporated in 1970 as a private, non-sectarian, not-for-profit, corporation [IRS Code 501(c)(3)] with the express purpose of providing affordable housing and other related community services. Over the course of a 50-year period, OHAS developed two different divisions that complimented one another beautifully; affordable housing and community transportation.
Affordable Elderly/Disabled Apartment-Housing Production
OHAS developed and managed, two affordable housing complexes for low-income elderly and disabled persons in Silverton, Oregon. The “Silvertowne Apts” were built by OHAS in 1977 using 515 funds from Rural Development (formerly called the Farmers Home Administration), a division of the Federal Department of Agriculture and are designed for independent-living, low-income elderly and disabled individuals. The property is comprised of forty (40) independent-living housing units, constructed in clusters of duplexes and triplexes, around a central general purpose or commons building. The commons building houses a laundry facility, general purpose kitchen, community bulletin boards, and a social/meeting area.
Bordering the Silvertowne Apartments, OHAS built another complex with USDA Rural Development 515 funds in 1992. “Silvertowne II” includes forty-six (46) duplex, triplex, and quad units and another general-purpose commons building with similar amenities to the Silvertowne Apartments. Both Silvertowne and Silvertown II are comprised of duplex and triplex living units, plus social amenities, laundries, meeting areas, commons, etc. IS Living continues to own and manage both properties today which are still very popular as vacancy rates continue to remain very low.
In 1994, OHAS entered into a Limited partnership Agreement to develop a 32-unit Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) property for seniors in La Grande Oregon. The “Tamarack Court” property in a single U-shaped building with outreaching hallways emerging from a central commons area, kitchen, gym and administrative offices. The Northeast Oregon Housing Authority (NEOHA) has been under contract to manage the property along with their other projects since it opened in 1995. In 2014 OHAS purchased the limited partners interest entirely and IS Living continues operations it under contract with the North East Oregon Housing Authority.
Home Ownership & Affordable Single Family-Housing Production:
Community Integration Project II (CIPII) Homes:
During the de-institutionalization of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities from state-ran facilities in the early 1990’s, the State’s Office of Home and Community Supports invested millions of dollars from General Fund appropriations and sale of Oregon General Obligation Bonds to provide long-term housing to improve or expand community integration for this population. (Ironically, Spruce Villa Inc. was also busy during this time setting up and running several community based homes for this same population.) In 1992, OHAS purchased three of these homes which continue under contract until 2022 for that program. All three homes currently have long-term leases with agencies operating 24-hour residential services to care for this population.
In 1994, OHAS was one of two Oregon non-profits to receive a HOPE 3 Home Ownership Program grant. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), our HOPE 3 grant was designed to assist low-income Marion and Polk County families when they purchased their first home. OHAS rehabilitated and resold eighteen homes to low-income families. The houses were foreclosed properties acquired by OHAS from local city, county, state and federal governments. Deemed a huge success, we bowed out of HOPE 3 in 1998, when the supply of “surplus” houses become scarce, which caused their cost to exceed the parameters established by HUD. As of June 2016, of the original eighteen, eight continue in this program and are on target for loan forgiveness from OHAS.
At the conclusion of the HOPE 3 Program, OHAS, in conjunction with the Chemeketa Community College (CCC) Building Trades class began building a house a year to be sold exclusively to a low-income, first-time, buyer. Because the CCC students donate their labor the buyer of each home is able to buy well below the house’s appraised value. Many of the students in these building trades class are, themselves, from situations that place them below median income. By providing the opportunity to instruct these students in all aspects of construction which, in turn, assisted them in obtaining jobs in the building industry, OHAS aided an additional 20 to 30 individuals yearly in this program until it ended in the early 2000’s.
The H.O.U.S.E. Program:
OHAS participated in the creation of the H.O.U.S.E. Program along with sponsors, Oregon Housing and Community Services, HUD and NW lenders. The goal was to give low-income home buyers lower interest rates for the first 4-years of ownership, thus making it easier for them to enter the housing market.
From 1987 to mid-1994 OHAS was a Federally Certified Comprehensive Housing Counseling Agency, providing services to Oregonians in the areas of mortgage default, reverse mortgages, pre-purchase counseling and landlord-tenant problems. In 1995 a consortium, sponsored by HUD, provided housing counseling training to social service agencies in the Mid-Willamette Valley. OHAS developed the Housing Counseling Manual for that meeting.
From 1981 to 1994, OHAS repaired more than 900 rural housing units occupied by very low and low-income households. This program was funded by Federal Rural Home Development home repair funds, FmHA Technical Assistance Grants and the FmHA 504 Program.
OHAS’ Wheels Community Transportation program provided the CherryLift and CARTS service for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as the general public, throughout Marion and Polk Counties, and in addition provide non-emergency medical transportation to Portland and surrounding areas from the inception of those programs.
Originally established in 1976 by the Council on Aging, OHAS’ Wheels Community Transportation program was implemented to serve the transportation needs of Salem and Keizer elderly. Soon after Wheels origination, the Council on Aging was asked to incorporate the Red Cross’ disabled transportation service into its Wheels program. In 1983, the Council on Aging was sadly forced to cease operation of this vital program. Because of the continuing need of mobility impaired senior and disabled citizens for transportation service, OHAS agreed to assume responsibility for the Wheels Special Transportation program and the program was renamed Wheels Community Transportation. In 1992 OHAS expanded Wheels’ senior and disabled services into rural Marion and Polk counties. In 2000, after final closure of the Fairview Training Center, both Marion and Polk counties chose to contract with Wheels to meet these clients unique worksite transportation needs.
Until program funding was discontinued in 2013, OHAS’ Wheels Community Transportation had grown in its service to the area’s mobility impaired and economically disadvantaged. Wheels Community Transportation is was providing the region’s residents with non-emergent medical transportation to Portland and other points, under contract with the State’s Office of Medical Assistance Programs. And, working with Adult and Family Service branches in Marion and Polk counties, OHAS/Wheels contracts with DHS to provide the transportation link for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) clients.
In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. The Act required public transit agencies to provide “complimentary” or comparable paratransit service by 1995 for disabled persons, who because of their impairment, are unable to access the local fixed-route public transit system. In 1995, the Salem Area Mass Transit District (Cherriots) lacking expertise in the provision of “demand-responsive” paratransit service, entered into a contract with OHAS, and its Wheels operating division, to fulfill this federally mandated obligation. Operating 10-12 service vehicles daily, Wheels’ “CherryLift” service is projected to provide close to 60,000 one-way trips this year for Salem and Keizer transit-dependent disabled citizens. The service transitioned from OHAS to the current provider in 2010.
The Chemeketa Area Regional Transportation System (a.k.a. “CARTS”) is a partnership among Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties. Its objective is the coordination of resources dedicated to providing its senior citizens, disabled, and economically disadvantaged residents access to medical services, employment, educational, shopping and recreational opportunities. Acknowledging Wheels’ existing resources and qualifications for satisfying the CARTS objective, they chose to contract with OHAS/Wheels for operation of CARTS services in rural Marion and Polk counties. In response to community outreach forums and social service agency needs, Wheels designed and operated a network of CARTS point-deviated, fixed-routes that meet interregional connectivity needs. Before the CARTS program transitioned to the current provider in 2012, OHAS added CARTS a demand-responsive dial-a-ride service in many areas not currently served by the point-deviated, fixed-routes.
That kind of strategic thinking combined with the application of best practice resulted in the development of several transportation programs with various types of service including fixed route, deviated fixed route, commuter, flex route, general public dial-a-ride, Medicaid, and ADA complementary paratransit under OHAS operation. The operation of Wheels and CARTS, CATS in Canby, and SAM in Sandy involved all aspects of operations including ADA eligibility screening and maintenance of eligibility status, ride reservation requests, arranging for origin to destination transportation, as well as delivering them to their requested destinations. Contracts for those services transitioned to the current providers in 2012 and 2013.