Artist's rendering of Nesika Illahee, a new housing development in Portland, Oregon. Image courtesy Native American Youth and Family Center

Siletz Tribe set to break ground on historic urban housing development

The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians are breaking ground on a historic housing development in Oregon.

The tribe is investing its federal housing funds in the urban Indian community in Portland. The effort will result in 59 units of affordable housing in the state's most populous city.

The unique development is called Nesika Illahee which means "Our Place" in the Chinook language. It's being undertaken in partnership with the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) and the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA).

“We are very pleased to partner with NAYA and NARA and provide Siletz tribal members with the opportunity for affordable housing in the Portland area," said Siletz Chairman Dolores Pigsley. "This will benefit tribal citizens for many years to come.”

The groundbreaking ceremony takes place on Tuesday morning at 6300 NE 42nd Avenue. The project site is not far from NAYA's headquarters in Portland's Cully neighborhood.

The entire neighborhood is located on what used to be the Chinook village of Neerchokikoo, whose last tribal resident was forced to leave in the early 1900s. The housing project marks a historic return to those lands.

“Displacement is a major problem in the Native American community due to increasing rental and housing costs and low household incomes," said Paul Lumley, who serves as NAYA executive director. "Nesika Illahee will be a step towards bringing Native community members closer to NAYA, the historic site of the Neerchokikoo tribal village."

"We are excited to bring an opportunity for Native Americans to return to what is now the Cully neighborhood, while meeting their urgent need for housing," said Lumley.

Once the housing is complete, NAYA and NARA will provide onsite behavioral health, dental and recovery services. Referrals can also be made at NAYA’s center, which is less than a mile away.

Community Development Partners is the project developer.

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