By News-Register staff • 

Grant supports supported housing project

Permanent supportive housing in Newberg just got a step closer to becoming a reality with help from a gift from Frank Foti and Brenda Smola-Foti, co-founders of The Ground, a Yamhill County-based organization.

Foti and Smola-Foti made the donation through their TREL Foundation, pledging $2 million to Catholic Charities of Oregon, including a year-end cash gift of $400,000, to help build permanent supportive housing in Yamhill County.

Approximately 50 units of permanent supportive housing are planned that will include a mix of studio and one-bedroom units. Permanent supportive housing is housing with indefinite leasing or rental assistance paired with coordinated services to assist persons who have experienced homelessness and/or are living with a disability, or families with an adult or child member living with a disability, to achieve housing stability.

“This gift has the potential to make a big difference in the lives of many Yamhill County who face houselessness,” said Natalie Wood, executive director at Catholic Charities. “We are grateful to Brenda, Frank and The Ground for their generosity and look forward to working with our community partners so we can serve more people on this important issue.”

This development is part of the Healthy Housing Initiative, a partnership between Providence and Catholic Charities to create 1,000 affordable housing units in areas that Providence serves. Active planning for the project is underway and dependent on funding availability; construction is estimated to be complete in early 2025.

Wood stated that permanent supporting housing is at the end of a continuum of housing support that’s needed to get unhoused people off the streets and into stable and safe housing where they can thrive and re-enter communities and workforce.

“At The Ground, we have a philosophy of celebrating belonging through hospitality to all species,” Foti said. “Through farming, food, and care for the land and water, we aim to create experiences that celebrate human nature’s connection to all nature. Yamhill County has a long history of its residents taking care of each other and it’s an honor for us and our team at The Ground to help extend this tradition moving forward.”

In addition to his work at The Ground, Foti serves on the McMinnville Affordable Housing Committee, which was formed in 2016 to increase housing availability for low and no-income families who are on the verge of losing their homes.

The Ground is a collection of virtual and physical destinations across Yamhill County, rooted in the understanding that humans are a part of nature. The Ground started with Tabula Rasa Farms in Carlton in 2015, and now includes the Humble Spirit restaurant and Stillwater event center in McMinnville (formerly Elizabeth Chambers Winery) and Source Farms in Yamhill.

The Healthy Housing Initiative combines health care and housing services to help homeless people remain off the streets through permanent supportive housing that includes wrap-around case management and health services for these vulnerable households.

In the press release, the foundation stated that the housing initiative seeks to serve a broad continuum of needs, with the Newberg project joining more than 800 existing affordable housing units in the Portland metro area and across western Oregon.

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