Our History

Home Forward takes great pride in being part of our shared community heritage for the past 70 years.

The Housing Authority of Portland (Home Forward’s original name) was created by the Portland City Council on December 11, 1941 — just four days after the United States entered World War II. With nearby shipbuilding factories gearing up for the war effort, Portland quickly needed safe and affordable housing for the scores of people streaming into the region for work. In its first two years, the agency created housing for 72,000 people: workers in the shipyards and foundries, and the local businesses that sprung up to serve the new residents and their families.

Since those auspicious beginnings, the agency has continued to be a national leader in developing innovative ways to deliver affordable housing and social services to people in need. In 1991, we served about 8,500 households and 20,000 residents. Today, that number has grown to include some 15,000 households and more than 33,000 residents.

Home Forward is one of only 39 (out of more than 3,000) housing authorities nationwide that participates in the federal Moving to Work program authorized by Congress. As a recognition of past successes, Moving to Work agencies are granted a greater degree of regulatory flexibility in order to innovate new approaches to fulfilling their mission.  In recent years, Home Forward has also been the recipient of federal HOPE VI grants for the major revitalization of three different public housing properties in our service area.

Our Historic Home

Home Forward’s historic headquarters building is in downtown Portland at the heart of the Skidmore (Old Town) National Register Historic District. Built in 1889 as a warehouse, forge, and annex to the New Market Theater next door, the building was originally called New Market Annex. Home Forward purchased the building and began moving into its new headquarters in 1990.

Preserving Our Heritage

In 1991, on the occasion of our 50th year of operation, we published a history of our agency titled Glimpses from the Past: 50 Years of Community Building, written by Richard Sanders. It contains a detailed history of Home Forward and is richly illustrated with many historical photographs and news clippings. (This book is currently out of print, but you may be able to find a copy from a used bookseller or at your local library.)