Portland City Council has voted 5-0 to approve the creation of the Cully Tax Increment Finance district and adopt the Cully TIF District Plan for one of the city’s most culturally and ethnically diverse communities.

An Exploration Leadership Committee (ELC) made up of community-based organizations and Cully residents, along with staff from Prosper Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB), co-created the Cully TIF District proposal in a four-year process that centered historically underserved, marginalized, and underrepresented community voices.

ELC partners included Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Our 42nd Avenue, Cully Boulevard Alliance, Verde, Cully Association of Neighbors, Hacienda CDC, Habitat for Humanity Portland Region, and Cully community members at large.

These partners came together in 2018 with the stated goal to turn the traditional urban renewal district creation process upside down, to ensure the funds are focused on benefiting the very people who have historically been displaced by these projects.  They presented the idea to Prosper Portland and PHB who agreed to work with them.

The Cully TIF District Plan, Report and Governance Charter are the products of multiple years of co-creation among City staff and the ELC as well as extensive community outreach. The vision for the work is to transform Cully into a place that provides a sense of belonging for its residents, particularly for priority communities.

More specifically, that vision encompasses plentiful safe, affordable housing, thriving Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned businesses, rewarding employment opportunities, safe and accessible transportation options, parks and open spaces, a clean and healthy environment, and climate resiliency, with places and programs that reflect the cultural diversity of BIPOC individuals.

The newly adopted Plan will guide future five-year action plans and establishes the project list, a list of legally eligible housing and economic development project types for future TIF investment that will help move the community toward its vision. TIF spending will be administered under the guidance of the Community Leadership Committee. The city will hold an open application process to recruit committee members in the spring; action planning, the process by which specific investment priorities are identified, will kick off next summer.

Quotes from partners:
Chach M. Heart, mobile home resident, Community Engagement Committee member, and ELC member: “[I’m] proud of the work we have done and inspired to see what this community will create collaboratively with this funding.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler: “I am deeply impressed by the level of partnership and collaboration that went into developing this new TIF district, which will guide more than $300 million in public investments in Cully over the next 30 years.  These resources will fund affordable housing and economic development projects that will help address some of the displacement pressure that Cully is facing, and advance other community priorities.”

Paul Lumley, Native American Youth and Family Center: “We’re proud of being a part of creating a new model of collaboration, partnership, and dialogue between the community and the public sector. We look forward to continuing to work with the Cully community and partners to implement their priorities while upholding the plan’s vision, values and principles.”

Commissioner Dan Ryan: Prosper Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau have led a collaborative effort in partnership with the Cully neighborhood community to take a fresh approach to TIF districts. The Cully TIF district represents a 30-year vision for the neighborhood’s future and continued success of this project requires deep neighborhood involvement, and the community must persist as the glue that implements this just and ambitious vision. I see the fire in the belly of the Cully community, I have confidence they are committed for the long term, as such, I am enthusiastic about the Cully TIF district.”

Kimberly Branam, Prosper Portland: “We believe this collaborative model of district development and priority setting is the future of TIF, and we appreciate the historic action taken by City Council. While we recognize this new district is not a panacea, we do look forward to working in partnership with the Community Leadership Committee to achieve the vision for Cully.”

Maddie Norman, community engagement and research coordinator with Living Cully: “People who have been doing anti-displacement work in Cully said, what if we can use this tool that’s caused harm, instead, to stabilize? And we have created a way that we think that can happen.”

Tracee Wells-Bryant, Training and Education Specialist at PCC Workforce Development Center and ELC member: “As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, ‘The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.’”

Molly Rogers, Portland Housing Bureau: “This is a historic opportunity to use our resources in a new way to support a community-led vision for Cully that is equitable, inclusive, and vibrant. Affordable housing investments early on in the life of the district will be critical to preventing displacement and ensuring that existing Cully residents can share in the benefits and opportunities these investments will generate. We look forward to working in partnership with the community to create housing opportunities that reflect the needs of one of our city’s most diverse neighborhoods.”

Elizabeth de Jesus, Community Engagement Leader, Cully TIF ELC member: “I appreciate that this plan supports people of color and low-income people, and they don’t focus on their status. It betters our community, especially kids. Our community is tired of false promises. We want to make sure our community is receiving what we ask for so the community can have trust.”

Steve Messinetti, Habitat for Humanity Portland Region: “Redefining urban renewal for the nation, such that it is for the people, by the people! This is historic. Everyone who put the hard work and long hours into this should be very proud.”

David Sweet, ELC member representing the Cully Association of Neighbors: “This TIF district is unique in that it was conceived and led by the Cully community.  We set out to find the resources to prevent displacement from Cully.  Now we can work with the City to make that happen.”