Getting new neighbors can be joyous and at the same time brings many changes. In east Portland, we’ve wanted to see investments in transportation safety, parks, services, and more walkability. But even those investments can bring challenges. 

In June 2021, my office heard from the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association (HNA) about Central City Concern’s (CCC) Blackburn Center, located on SE 122nd and Burnside, which provides residential care and wrap-around services to those coming out of homelessness. The neighborhood wanted to develop a Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) with CCC, and CCC, wanting to be good neighbors, came to the table to talk. 

I am so happy to announce that this week we completed and signed a finalized GNA!

The Blackburn Center opened in July 2019, before COVID-19 shut down our lives. The pandemic also inhibited our ability to work together as a community to address some of our most complex issues. Community safety, trash accumulation, and houselessness significantly worsened in Hazelwood during the pandemic and the neighborhood felt disconnected from local service providers, who they wanted help from to solve these issues. The Hazelwood Neighborhood Association was eager to develop a GNA to establish stronger lines of communication, and Central City Concern was excited to work with this deeply-connected neighborhood association.

The process of creating this GNA was bumpy at times and I am proud of my team for staying focused on reaching an agreement. We’ve been through this before with the creation of a GNA between the Laurelwood Shelter in southeast Portland, the Joint Office of Homeless Services, and the four neighborhood associations close to the shelter. I know that GNAs are an effective tool to bring people together and a powerful tool for building trust. Through these conversations, both parties have the chance to air grievances and share their perspectives with one another. I am convinced that GNAs are beneficial for neighborhoods and service/shelter providers, and that’s why my office has invested time and energy into developing these agreements.

Left to right: Juliana Lukasik, CCC’s Sr. Dir of Communications and Public Affairs, Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, and Chris Colburn, Blackburn Center Facilities Manager. Standing in front of Transformation (2019), by Malian artist Baba Wagué Diakité

I have many thanks to give. Thank you to Juliana Lukasik, Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs at CCC, and the entire CCC team for engaging with our community. I appreciate the life-changing services provided at the Blackburn Center and through other CCC programs. And thank you to Ann McMullen for bringing forth this request on behalf of Hazelwood Neighborhood Association, representing the neighborhood in negotiations, and advocating for the improved conditions of the neighborhood where you and I live.

The Blackburn Center is located in the heart of Hazelwood. It is an essential part of our community where houseless Portlanders can go to receive medical care or job support and find connection in a caring setting. I am so glad that the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association and Blackburn Center now have a Good Neighbor Agreement so they can work together towards the unifying purpose of bettering our community.