Welcoming the Community Home

Welcoming the Community Home

Ribbon Cutting celebrates NAYA’s third affordable housing development in Cully neighborhood  

The opening of Hayu Tilixam, meaning “Many Nations” in the Chinook language, was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony last month. The third time Community Development Partners (CDP) and NAYA have partnered to provide housing in the Cully neighborhood, Hayu Tilixam offers 50 affordable housing units near the intersection of NE Prescott Street and NE Cully Blvd.

Hayu Tilixam is part of a greater vision for the Native community in Cully. Following the completion of Nesika Illahee in 2020 with its focus on recovery, and Mamook Tokatee in May 2022 with its focus on Native artists as our culture keepers, this third project offers nine units of permanent supportive housing. All three developments are located within one mile of NAYA’s campus and services on NE Columbia Blvd.

“Native Americans experience houselessness at a higher rate than other groups–this is a major issue for the Native community and for Portland,” said Paul Lumley, CEO, NAYA. “We are pleased to offer permanent supportive housing options so close to our campus and appreciate the partnership with the City of Portland and Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA) for providing critical supports for the residents.”

With community in audience and remarks provided by Oregon State Representative Tawna Sanchez, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Interim Director of the Portland Housing Bureau Molly Rogers, Portland City Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, HUD Regional Administrator of the NW Margaret Salazar, Oregon Housing and Community Services Director Andrea Bell, Community Development Partners CEO Eric Paine, Metro Councilor Mary Nolan, Home Forward Executive Director Ivory Mathews, NARA Chief Community Engagement & Development Officer Sande Bea Allman, NAYA CEO Paul Lumley, and NAYA Board of Directors Chair Molly Washington, it was an inspirational gathering full of gratitude for the community members served and the vision realized.

“We are so proud of the continued work CDP and NAYA have been able to accomplish together,” said Eric Paine, CEO, Community Development Partners. “Hayu Tilixam is our third collaboration together and our first in partnership with Portland Housing Bureau who provided the land and Portland Housing Bond funding. The project focuses on serving Native families with a design that includes input from community members and elders in the Native community to ensure a welcoming and culturally responsive environment where residents will be able to feel at home.”

Reflections on the Hayu Tilixam Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

by Molly Washington, Chair, NAYA Board of Directors

Dagot’ee, nowíí! Sk’an yao gohzóó doleeł. Shí Molly Washington, gonsee. N’dee ashlíi, Kuyagé ashlíí. Shí shił gohzóó zho dijįį.

Hello, everyone and good afternoon! My name is Molly Washington. I am Apache and I am Mexican and I am very happy today.

It’s hard to find the words appropriate or fitting for today’s ceremony in my Native language, Apache. I am an Apache language learner. Ił’ch’igo’ ahí ashtt’ee. I am a student. I learn in a class that was created specifically to preserve the Apache language, and I learn the Apache language consistent with our oral traditions– through speaking it and through hearing it. In some spaces, I am a bił’ch’igo’ ahí. A teacher. We can be both at the same time.

NAYA began this housing work prior to my tenure on the board, but since joining the organization and really becoming intimately involved in the work of housing development by serving on the Housing Development Committee, I have seen our people be both students and teachers. In the way very true to our Native culture, we have learned through doing.

NAYA learned to be a Housing developer by developing. First with Nesika Illahee. Next with Mamook Tokatee. Now with Hayu Tilixam. And moving forward, with the Tistilal Village redevelopment project, where for the very first time, we will be the lead developer. We have continued to grow our knowledge and skill and have become self-reliant, carving our own path in this work to address critical issues around housing in our Native community.

Thank you to the partners, and board, and especially to the leadership of our people in housing development and supportive services–the team who lives this work, day in and day out–they truly deserve the recognition.

In other ways, it is hard to find words for today because the words in my Native tongue do not translate directly to English. The Apache language honors all things as having their own personhood, their own respect, their own being. So, to describe a sunny day we would say “ch’gonaíí ngaał” which literally translates to The Sun is walking across the sky.

NAYA’s Housing work is led by guiding principles. I don’t know the words for these principles in the Apache language, but I do know what they mean in my heart or Natay, which is the Chippewa word for “heart” that I learned at the NAYA Native Marketplace this past weekend.

Our principles are:
Native Culture and Pride, Community Input, Partnership, Self-Determination, Identity and Sense of Belonging, Stewardship, Reclamation of Land, Fiscal Responsibility and Equity, Support Services, Sustainability, and Economic Development. The words themselves are insufficient, as is most language. They might have different meanings for each of us, but what I hope is that when you see our project, Hayu Tilixam, you know that each of these guiding principles and values, lives in that project. That you feel it in your natay.

I was asked recently what we, NAYA, would like the Portland Housing Bureau to know about us. I want them to know that when they support our projects, it is not charity. It is an investment in a housing developer with a record of successful projects and a clear mission and vision. We continue to build and lead in ways that are crucial for our Native community, with input from our Native community, and centered on the skill, talent, and abilities of our Native community.

We have elevated from ił’ch igo’ ahí to bił’ch igo’ ahí. From student to teacher. I want people to honor our learning and to continue to support our work, through the self-determination that they empower. I don’t know the words for all the guiding principles in the Apache language. But maybe there is one word that encapsulates them all. Gowah, the Apache word for “home.”

Thank you. Ahiyí’é.