Portland Program Trains Future Builders and Supports Community Shelters

Workforce Development
Contact: Greg Zick
AVP, Workforce Development
(202) 266-8493

This year, the Home Builders Foundation-HomeAid Portland (HBF) leveraged funds from the National Housing Endowment’s (NHE) Career Connections Grant to complete a project that inspired future builders and helped Portland’s homeless population.

HBF was interested in connecting local construction training programs to support its mission to help build or improve shelter housing. In addition, the foundation determined that picnic tables are an ideal amenity to offer transitional housing sites. Typically, these facilities have few places for the residents to enjoy the outdoors.

To kick off the project, HBF offered three high school programs materials to construct picnic tables. The foundation shared NAHB’s Picnic Table Build Guide with each school. Materials and other associated costs were supported by NHE, donations from a local supplier, International Wood Products, and Bank of America through HomeAid WORKS. Four tables were completed and delivered to two different Portland transitional housing sites. The shelter operators were enthusiastic about the donations of the new tables.

Educating the Community About the Skilled Trades

Chris McDowell, HBF project manager, worked with an adult pre-apprenticeship program supported by HBF, Constructing Hope this summer. Constructing Hope trainees are low-income, BIPOC individuals and the majority of them were formerly incarcerated. McDowell instructed the summer session trainees using his own picnic table design.

“I’m having a blast, this is a lot of fun, it’s giving me some good skills, some real-world experience. I’m looking forward to doing more,” said Jai Hurdle, a trainee.

At the end of the program, 10 cedar tables were completed and HBF gifted one of the tables to Constructing Hope to sell at an upcoming fundraiser. In addition, the project captured the attention of a local city councilperson who applauded HBF for their partnership efforts on social media.

In addition, the completed picnic tables were on display at the annual NW Natural Street of Dreams home tour event. HBF showcased the project to more than 40,000 people and talked to them about HBF/HBA Metro Portland’s workforce development programs. The display tables were donated to a service provider in a nearby community, where HBF will be assisting with a remodeling project this fall.

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