City of Gresham offers help for first-time homebuyers
GRESHAM, Ore. - The City of Gresham today launches WELCOME HOME, its new homebuyer assistance program, to help some qualified residents get their first home.
The program provides no-interest loans to individuals or families who:
* Live in Gresham and buy a home in Gresham.
* Make 80 percent or less of federal annual median income, or $55,000 or less for a family of four.
* Qualify for a primary mortgage from an Oregon licensed lender.
* Are first-time homebuyers, or have not owned a home in the past three years.
* Live in the home as their primary residence.
Qualifying residents receive no-interest loans ranging from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on financial need. If they remain in their home for 15 years, the loan balance is forgiven.
"City leaders recognize that many families continue to struggle financially to get - or keep - their homes and have made helping homebuyers a priority," Gresham Community Development Director Eric Schmidt said. "So we created WELCOME HOME from scratch and are ready to accept applications."
Starting April 1, 2015, the City will fund approximately eight to 10 loans through WELCOME HOME. Funding for another five to seven loans has been proposed for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
WELCOME HOME is a partnership with the Portland Housing Center, which serves as the underwriter and provides homebuyer education required by the federal government. Loans are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For more information or to apply, contact Heidi Martin, Portland Housing Center, at 503-797-4020 Heidim@PortlandHousingCenter.org
It's time to play at Nadaka Nature Park (Photo)
Friends of Nadaka leader Lee Dayfield
GRESHAM, Ore. - Nadaka Nature Park will host a grand opening on Saturday, April 4, to celebrate completion of the park and community garden as well as the unusual and uplifting partnerships that brought down the barbed wire around an urban forest and reclaimed it - and improved it - for the public.
The community is invited to celebrate from 10 a.m. to noon at Nadaka, a City of Gresham park located at Northeast 175th Avenue and Northeast Glisan Street in the City's Wilkes East neighborhood. The new nature-based play area and community garden will be open for the first time, tempting kids of all ages to climb, ride, build and jump on boulders, totem poles, a log cabin and a life-sized canoe carved from local cedar. A sand pit, 50-plot community garden and covered picnic area are also part of the park renovation, which was designed by MIG, a Portland design and planning firm.
The celebration is public - because the park is. About 75 percent of the funds used to create Nadaka came from bond measures to support parks that were passed by voters in Gresham and across the region in 1990, 1995 and 2006.
At the grand opening, Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis will speak, along with Friends of Nadaka Leader Lee Dayfield; Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick; Audubon Society of Portland Urban Conservationist Jim Labbe; Columbia Slough Watershed Council Executive Director Jane Van Dyke; and East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District Executive Director Jay Udelhoven.
Raptors from the Audubon Society will be on hand, along with nature educators from Audubon and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council's Slough School. Experts from the Oregon Natural Play Initiative, or ONPlay, will demonstrate the possibilities for fun that nature-based play areas provide. Children can sow spring seeds in the park, families can sign up for garden plots, and everyone can enjoy free refreshments. After the celebration, the community is invited to stay and play all day.
"We made it to this day because of the magic of the park," Dayfield said. "You walk out of the city into the forest, and it's green and quiet and shady. Nadaka really is an oasis. People respond to that peacefulness - and spread the spirit."
Nadaka is a 12-acre park located in a dense, diverse neighborhood in northwest Gresham, and is a half-mile walk for about 4,500 people, many of them children. Nadaka is home to owls and more than a dozen other species of birds, along with salamanders, possums and frogs.
Nadaka is short for "nature day kamp" - a name given to the property by Camp Fire, which ran a summer program for girls on the property from 1956 to 1995. In 1995, Camp Fire sold its 10 acres to the City, which used $500,000 from the 1990 Gresham Open Space Bond to pay for the property. After years of being closed to the public, the City in 2001 opened the north gate and built a quarter-mile loop trail through the firs.
Dayfield got involved in 2008, forming the community group Friends of Nadaka.
Dayfield marshalled the assistance of hundreds of individuals and organizations to help refurbish the site by clearing weeds and debris, planting and installing trash cans and signs. In 2009, Friends of Nadaka raised enough money from Metro through its Regional Natural Area Bond Measure, the East Multnomah Soil and Conservation District and the T.A. Nelson Estate to purchase two acres on the south side of the property from the Nelson family.
The purchase opened the park to busy Glisan Street and the Rockwood neighborhood, increasing public access by 50 percent. This two-acre parcel now holds the nature-based play area and community garden, which was largely paid for with a grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Meyer Memorial Trust provided grants to support park planning, as well as partial funding for a new full-time park coordinator.
In 2011, 17 community organizations and local governments, including the City, signed the Nadaka Nature Park and Garden Project Declaration of Cooperation. This unique agreement set out the vision for the new construction and a plan to jointly manage and operate the park for five years.
"The community created this park, with support from the public, private and non-profit sectors, and that cooperation is a testament to the passion and persistence of Lee Dayfield and the people of Gresham," Mayor Shane Bemis said. "Bringing nature and play to our children and families is a major priority for Gresham this year, so this celebration is as welcome as spring."
Public invited to weigh in on medical marijuana at City forum
GRESHAM, Ore. - The City of Gresham will host a public forum on medical marijuana on Tuesday, March 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Gresham City Hall in the Council Chambers located at 1331 N.W. Eastman Parkway.
Interested parties are encouraged to attend and learn more about medical marijuana and potential local regulation, and provide their input for consideration by the Gresham City Council next month. The Council is presently weighing whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Gresham after an existing prohibition expires on May 1, 2015, and whether to allow medical marijuana to be grown indoors within industrial areas.
The evening's agenda includes a staff presentation, a panel discussion and a moderated, open forum.
Like many Oregon communities, Gresham is examining a variety of issues raised by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act and the passage last year of Ballot Measure 91, which legalized recreational marijuana in Oregon beginning July 1, 2015.
The City Council has asked for additional public input on time-sensitive regulatory questions. Other marijuana-related issues will be taken up later this year.
For more information on medical and recreational marijuana in Gresham, including current Council policy positions, visit GreshamOregon.gov/MarijuanaPolicy. Send questions about the forum, or comments on the issue, to MarijuanaInput@GreshamOregon.gov
City staff at your service with My Gresham - 03/10/15
Gresham, OR - The City of Gresham today launched My Gresham, a new tool that provides a fast, free way to request City services, from fixing potholes to reporting graffiti, via web or smartphone.
My Gresham reflects Gresham's commitment to accessible, responsive and accountable public service.
It is easy to use. And the new tool is designed for everyone, from young people on the go to seniors at home with a desktop computer or tablet.
Gresham is the first city in Oregon to use this new web and mobile app designed by PublicStuff, which has launched it in 200 U.S. communities. Bellevue, Wash., is the only other Northwest city using the PublicStuff system.
The mobile version of My Gresham is Oregon's most comprehensive municipal mobile app. From a smartphone, residents can not only request City services, but ask a question, check the City calendar, jump on the Gresham Facebook page, and more. The mobile app is powered with One Voice Language Solutions, a system that provides real-time translation in Spanish, Russian and 14 other languages.
"As technology changes and adapts, it is imperative that we move with it, and use it to give our residents new and easier ways to conduct their business with the City of Gresham," Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis said. "It is staggering to think that it was only a couple decades ago when the best ways to reach City Hall were a fax machine, snail mail and a landline. Times have certainly changed, and I am proud that Gresham is finding new ways to be responsive to residents."
Bemis unveiled My Gresham during the annual State of the City Address, delivered March 4 in City Council Chambers, and the system was officially launched today at a community kick-off held at the Gresham Library. Residents tried out the new system on desktop computers and tablets, and downloaded it to their smartphones from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
My Gresham includes a variety of popular service requests, including street and sidewalk repairs, nuisance complaints such as graffiti and abandoned vehicles, water and sewer problems, rental housing inspections, and police and fire general information.
Additional features on the mobile app include asking a question, filing a police report, checking City news and viewing the City Council meetings and City event calendars. For a complete list of My Gresham features, see GreshamOregon.gov/MyGresham.
The City Council has made it their priority to connect with the community using digital tools. In just two years, Gresham has launched two economic development mobile apps, a recycling and garbage collection app, and partnered with Nextdoor.com, the private social network for neighborhoods.
My Gresham puts City Hall at your service - from computer or phone
MEDIA ADVISORY - NOT FOR PUBLICATION
GRESHAM, Ore. - Media representatives can capture the public launch of My Gresham, Oregon's first City Hall service tool powered by the PublicStuff platform, tomorrow, March 10, at 10 a.m. at the Gresham Library.
My Gresham makes City of Gresham services available anytime, anywhere - right on computers, tablets and smartphones. Fixing potholes, removing graffiti or reporting broken streetlights are just some of the services residents can request with the free web and mobile tool. Bellevue, Wash. is the only other Northwest city using the PublicStuff system.
A press release and video clip will be available. Gresham City Council President Jerry Hinton, Coalition of Gresham Neighborhood Associations President Carol Rulla and Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel will make remarks about the City's new tool and the county's digital inclusion efforts. Officials will be available for interviews. City staff will be on hand to show residents how to sign up for, and use, My Gresham.
Date: Tuesday, March 10
Time: Remarks at 10:15 a.m., demos and assistance follow until noon.
Place: Gresham Library, 385 N.W. Miller Ave., downtown Gresham. Event takes place in the community room across from the main entrance in the lobby.
Contact: Wendy Lawton, City of Gresham Communications Manager
, 503-793-4167 (cell)
Green & Clean Day of Service returns with spring - 03/06/15
GRESHAM, Ore. - The City of Gresham's 2nd annual Green & Clean Day of Service kicks off tomorrow, March 7, when volunteers will pull invasive blackberry vines, pick up litter and create a hedgerow with 2,500 native plants in the newly-protected Grant Butte Wetlands.
Volunteers young and old are encouraged to join in and green up Gresham at the event, which will run from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Some gloves and gardening tools will be provided, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own. They'll be rewarded for their work with free pizza and cold drinks at Wall Street Pizza, which hosts a post-clean-up celebration from 12 noon to 2 p.m.
The Grant Butte Wetlands are located just off the Gresham-Fairview Trail between Powell Boulevard and Division Street, with parking available off the Powell Loop, which connects to Powell Boulevard about a half-mile east of 182nd Avenue.
Registration is encouraged. Visit GreshamOregon.gov/greenandclean to sign up and get more details.
The City this year is partnering with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council for the Green & Clean event. Johnson Creek hosts their annual clean-up tomorrow, with 10 restoration and clean-up projects planned as part of their Watershed Wide Event. Details can be found at JCWC.org.
Another City partner this year is East Multnomah County Soil and Conservation District, which provided a $1,500 grant to pay for the native plants.
City Council President Jerry Hinton last year spearheaded the creation of Gresham's first Green & Clean event, when more than 325 volunteers came out and filled five dumpsters with yard debris, spread three cubic yards of bark dust, and picked up about 40 bags of trash.