Pamplin Media Group

Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (second and third from left) help Bienestar Executive Director Karen Shawcross (far right) and several children cut the ribbon opening Juniper Gardens II, a Forest Grove affordable-housing community for farmworkers in Washington County.

Alejandro Orteja and his family live in the Montebello Apartments in Hillsboro’s downtown core, close to shopping, schools and the MAX line.

“I like it for the purpose,” Orteja, a father of five, said of Juniper Gardens II, a colorful campus of gold and barn-red flats and townhomes that welcomed its first residents Saturday. “This is for the farmworkers.”

Its one- and two-story units will house 22 farmworker families, piggybacking on the 24 units contained in Phase I, which opened last December, said Laura Conroy, a Bienestar board member.

Bienestar’s signature community-building program will bring year-round farmworkers and other low-income residents in Washington County amenities and opportunities they might not otherwise get — including citizenship and computer classes for adults and math and reading literacy classes for children enrolled in Bienestar’s MpowR program.

Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Members of Azteca de Oro provided spirited music for the grand opening event last Wednesday, Oct. 22.

The campus features two playgrounds for children and a large community room and kitchen, where cooking lessons will take place. The property has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “silver” designation for energy efficiency.

They included Bienestar board president John McMeekan; U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD) Oregon State Director Vicki Walker; Housing and Urban Development Field Office Director Doug Carlson; and Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Director Margaret Van Vliet.

Gov. John Kitzhaber came in place of his fianceé, Cylvia Hayes, to boost the opening-day ceremony.

“We’re fighting for the notion that we’re all in this together.”

Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax praised the housing community as evidence of what “great partnerships can do” and said the “journey to equality is a continuing one.”

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