Community Livability Grant Informational Workshop

SE Works, Inc. - 7916 SE Foster Road, Classroom 4


Community Livability Grant Program

A new round of PDC Community Livability Grant funds was announced on February 21, 2012, with up to $300,000 in grants  available in each of the Interstate and Lents Town Center URAs. These grants support a wide variety of community benefits: historic preservation, open spaces and gardens, community and cultural centers, social services, job training, and the growth of local businesses. All interested applicants are required to attend a mandatory workshop to learn more about project eligibility, completing the application, and the evaluation and selection process. For Interstate, the workshop will be March 6 at the June Key Delta Community Center, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or 5:00-6:30 p.m.; for Lents Town Center, March 7, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at SE Works. 

Each year, the Portland Development Commission seeks proposals that foster vibrant and  healthy neighborhoods within the Interstate Corridor andLents Town Center Urban Renewal Areas. Grants are available through the PDC Community Livability Grant Program for real property improvements to public facilities and neighborhood and cultural amenities that meet the needs and honor the diversity of area residents.

Grants are awarded through a competitive process and are intended to encourage projects that address community objectives, advance social equity, focus on disadvantaged Portlanders, and build local community capacity. Projects must add, expand or improve physical space that benefits the broader community.  Examples include:

  • Community health or nutrition centers
  • Education and workforce training centers
  • Recreational space
  • Childcare centers
  • Open space and community gardens
  • Music, arts and cultural centers
  • Historic or cultural assets
  • Senior centers


PDC has awarded more than $2.2 million in Community Livability Grants since 2006.  The typical grant ranges from $5,000 to $50,000.

Community Livability Grants – making a small but mighty difference

Our partnership with PDC gave us both the material and technical support to revitalize our 1928 mission-style building, currently being used to deliver services to members of the African American community. PDC staff showed their true commitment to improving the livability of this historically important structure, while giving the tenants a sense of uplift and pride in their environment. We truly appreciate the support provided to the African American Health Coalition, Inc.” 
– Corliss McKeever, AAHC

AAHC Before and after


PDC's investments helped us create a high profile, sustainable community space that benefits Ethos' families and our neighbors in the Humboldt neighborhood. We think very highly of PDC and the support we’ve received has been crucial to our success in shaping Ethos into a dynamic nonprofit organization. We are extremely grateful."
- Jedidiah Chavez, Executive Director

Ethos Music Center


"This project almost killed me in the process, but when I look across the street now and see the results and my neighbors actually using the space, it was all worth it.
- Terah Beth Varga, TBBV Design

Our Happy Block

African American Health Coalition 

With a grant from PDC’s Community Livability Grant program, the African American Health Coalition (AAHC) has seen a transformation of the historic building they own on N Mississippi, just one block north of Russell Street.  AAHC used the PDC grant to replace 70 leaky vinyl windows on the building’s east façade and facing the interior courtyard, repaired stucco and cornice trim and painted the building. The improvements will preserve the structural integrity and historic character of the building, improve energy efficiency, and be a place of pride for tenants and the neighborhood. 

Additional interior improvements are being completed by the AAHC. The 20,000 square foot building is currently operated by Lifeworks as an alcohol and drug treatment center for women where they can live with their children while they get the help they need. The tenants are ethnically diverse and low-income. The AAHC’s mission is to promote health and improve wellness of African Americans through health education, advocacy and research. Future plans for the building are to add a commercial kitchen and space for community access to cooking demonstrations for healthy eating and increase the useable building space, including adding more affordable housing units.  The building is registered by the City of Portland as a contributing structure in the Russell Street Conservation District.

Ethos Music Center

Thirteen years ago the building at 2 N. Killingsworth was boarded up and abandoned; today it is home to Ethos Music Center, one of the nation’s most environmentally friendly music schools, with a mission to make sure that every child has an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of music education. Since 2006, PDC has awarded $83,813 in three Community Livability Grants to Ethos. Ethos has used these grants in combination with PDC’s Green Features Grant,Storefront Improvement Program and other assistance to renovate school  headquarters at 2 N Killingsworth, adding new storefront windows along N Williams Avenue and N Killingsworth Street, an eco-roof, a solar panel system, wind turbines, and a rainwater cistern. Today Ethos serves more than 700 students every week with direct music instruction at the Killingsworth center, and brings music education to several thousand more students in Oregon schools and community centers.  With the help of the PDC’s Community Livability Grant program, Ethos Music Center has grown to become the largest community music school in Oregon with outreach programs reaching to every corner of the state.

Our Happy Block Coalition 

The Our Happy Block Coalition is a grass roots, neighborhood-led group in the Mount Scott-Arleta neighborhood that rallied to fix an eyesore. In 2010, Our Happy Block applied for a Community Livability Grant to transform an old church parking lot at the Calvary Lutheran Church on SE 80th & Woodstock into a shared community space. What has transpired since 2010 has been nothing short of breathtaking, driven by hundreds of donated volunteer hours, partnerships with community-based organizations, and the work of one dedicated woman and neighborhood resident. 

Plagued by cut-through traffic and illegal activities, the parking lot prompted neighbor Terah Beth Varga with TBBV Design to do something about it. She organized her neighbors, struck a friendship with the church parishioners, wrote lots of grants, and ultimately designed and managed the project from conception through construction. PDC's CLG funds served as a $5,000 challenge grant to Our Happy Block to raise matching funds, develop partnerships, and phase an ambitious plan into feasible steps. The work included installing a 1,000 SF native plant garden adjacent to the parking lot, planting new street trees with Friends of Trees, partnering with Depave to demolish and remove sections of the lot for stormwater swales and new native landscaping, and installing a new sidewalk (and parking strip with trees) to eliminate access to SE Martin Street and its correlating cut-through traffic. Subsequent partnerships produced a new mural on the back of McCollum Auto Body on SE 82nd Ave., funded through SE Uplift; reduced stormwater runoff and the conversion of crumbling blacktop into a usable green space through the installation of new landscaping funded by East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District.

Contact us

For more information or to be added to the mailing list, please contact:

Susan Kuhn
Senior Program Manager
PDC, 222 NW Fifth Avenue 
Portland, OR 97209
email /community-livability-grant-informational-workshop