It is not easy to find affordable housing in Portland these days! That is why organizations like Home Forward are so important. Home Forward is a Multnomah County-based non-profit that works to provide affordable housing solutions to those who are most vulnerable to housing insecurity. This November, Home Forward completed its latest housing development, the Louisa Flowers. Oregon Black Pioneers Board members Kimberly Moreland and Elise Gautier worked with Home Forward to conduct historical research for a new permanent outdoor exhibition at the building in honor of its namesake. The exhibit was completed in September.
Louisa Thacker was born in Boston in 1849. It is not known how they met, but in 1882 Louisa married Allen Flowers. Flowers was a 16 year old ship’s cabin boy from Columbus, OH who deserted in Portland. The newlyweds settled in Portland that year and established a farm near Mt. Scott. In 1915 the Flowers family moved to downtown Portland where they purchased a home at 1815 NE First Street. The prosperous couple went on to buy other nearby homes: 1803 NE First Street, 1811 NE First Street, 1745 NE First Street, 546 NE Stanton, and 4114 N Haight.
Louisa raised the couple’s four children while maintaining social and civil responsibilities. She was a member of the Old Rose Club and Williams Avenue YWCA, and along with her husband held active roles in the Portland NAACP and Bethel AME Church. The Flowers’ achievements as home owners and land developers represents an important accomplishment in a city with a long legacy of housing discrimination.
Home Forward approached OBP about helping identify an important figure to name their new affordable housing development in honor of. Kim and Elise conducted the research for the project which is now enshrined in a permanent exhibit within The Louisa Flowers building’s courtyard. Currently the exhibit is accessible only to building residents, but will soon be open for public access once the first floor retail units are completed. In the meantime, the panels can be viewed online.
The Louisa Flowers is Multnomah County’s largest apartment building financed with low-income housing tax-credits during the past 50 years. The 12-story building is on NE Grand Avenue, and the Louisa Flowers exhibit is at the building entrance on NE Holladay Street. Of The Louisa Flowers’ 240 homes, 217 are available to people earning 60% of the county’s median family income and lower, 23 are available to those earning 50% of the median family income and lower, and 20 are available to those earning 30% of the median family income and lower.
Oregon Black Pioneers was founded in 1993. Its mission is to research, recognize, and commemorate the culture and heritage of African Americans in the State of Oregon. Its vision is to be the premier resource for information about Oregon’s African American culture and heritage. For more information please contact email@example.com.