New Columbia

Year Completed: 

New Columbia is a diverse 82-acre neighborhood built on the former site of World War II public housing for defense workers, with the help of our first HOPE VI federal grant.

Located in the North Portland’s Portsmouth neighborhood, the housing mix of 852 units includes public housing, affordable rental housing, elderly housing and homes for sale. In addition to new parks, public facilities include community centers, recreational facilities, day care, and adult learning centers.  New Columbia is adjacent to Rosa Parks Elementary School, a new school built during the same timeframe with the aid of Home Forward’s development expertise.



  • 556 rental households managed by Home Forward including:
    • 297 units with public housing operating subsidy
    • 73 units with project-based Section 8 subsidy
    • 186 additional units for households earning less than 60% MFI
  • 234 homeownership units including:
    • 128 market rate homes
    • 98 homes developed by non-profit builders such as Habitat for Humanity
    • 8 homes developed using a cohousing model
  • 66 rental apartments developed and managed as senior housing by NW Housing Alternatives


  • Community-friendly design includes a street grid that reconnects the site with the surrounding neighborhood, front porches that encourage interaction with neighbors, multiple parks and public spaces.
  • The Community Campus, including a new elementary school and new Boys & Girls Club, were the first in the country to be financed using New Market Tax Credits.
  • Public art in the central city park and along “main street on Trenton” reflect the variety of resident’s cultures and traditions.
  • Sustainable stormwater management system retains 98% of stormwater onsite; the pocket swales, or “rain gardens,” are now maintained by resident volunteers.
  • Two community gardens and a new “Village Market” provide access to healthy food along with entrepreneurial opportunities for residents.
  • An extensive community advisory committee and design process involved hundreds of people over a ten month planning period.
  • Awards are numerous, including 2007 Smart Growth Achievement winner in overall excellence.


  • Financial:  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOPE VI program; City of Portland; Oregon Housing and Community Development LIHTC Program; (plus additional partners to finance community campus)
  • Design and construction: Mithun, Michael Willis, Robinson Merryman Barnes (architects); Walsh Construction of Oregon


  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Rosa Parks Elementary School (Portland Public Schools)
  • NW Housing Alternatives
  • Janus Youth Programs