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Media contact: Paul Neville, 541-743-7121

 

Mitch Allen Retires As SVDP’s Housing Director

Categories: Email Newsletter, Housing, Jobs, Staff Stories
Author:
Date: Monday, May 22 2017
One good guy, longtime property manager Mitch Allen.

 When he began working at the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVDP) 14 years ago, Housing Director Mitch Allen had no idea how large his department would become by the time he retired.

 When I started, we were managing 449 units, and now we’re managing more than 1,300 units,” he said. “I never dreamed that our housing operation would get so big so fast.”

 Allen retired on May 19 and has been succeeded by Jennifer Cervantes, who has worked for nearly 14 years at SVDP, most recently as compliance manager.

 Terry McDonald, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul, said Allen has kept a steady hand on the tiller during a time of rapid growth for the nonprofit’s affordable housing operation. “Mitch Allen has been an absolute rock for this organization – his steadiness, calm under fire and heart of gold have made him a special employee and manager,” McDonald said.

 Allen learned about St. Vincent de Paul while working as a volunteer in United Way as a professional forester for Weyerhaeuser. “I got to know and respect the agency and eventually decided to volunteer,” he said. It wasn’t long before he accepted a full-time position and began overseeing the nonprofit’s housing and property management operations.

 While he enjoyed his previous forestry career – “You look at the hills around town, and my footprints are all over them,” he said -- he found his work managing housing for low-income residents to be highly rewarding because of the agency’s mission of helping people in need. “I like to tell people I went from hugging trees to hugging people,” he quipped.

Photo: In his final meeting with SVDP's Housing Advisory Board Mitch drove the bus on a tour of properties. From left are Jennifer Cervantes, Mitch Allen, and HAB members John Webster, Trudy Atkinson, Rick Steers, and Bill Starbuck.

people with St. Vinnie's sign

Allen recalled attending the first of what would be many grand openings for new SVDP affordable housing complexes during his tenure at the agency. The year was 2004, and the complex was the Aurora Building, a five-story, 54-unit mixed-use building located in downtown Eugene. While the building was a model of sustainability and energy efficiency and boasted an innovative design that won numerous awards, Allen most prominent memory is of one of the complex’s first tenants – a woman who lived in the complex with her child for an extended period while attending college. “If I recall correctly, she was pregnant when she cut the ribbon at the grand opening, and years later sent me a wonderful letter thanking me for the opportunity she had to live there,” he said. “It’s one of the many success stories that have helped make my time at St. Vincent so worthwhile.”

 

 Other grand openings followed at the Stellar, Aster, Alona, Bascom affordable housing complexes and more. “When I came here we had 18 people working in housing, and now we have 56. That’s a lot of growth,” he said.

 Allen hasn’t completely retired. He has accepted a part-time job managing the Summer Oaks Mobile Home Park, and he also oversees two conestoga huts housing homeless people at his church, Hope Lutheran. In his spare time, he plans to take train trips with his wife Sharon throughout the Northwest and to visit grandchildren in Colorado. He plans to spend more time gardening and to continue his long-time active role in the Springfield Twin Rivers Rotary Club.

  He’ll also be returning to visit with his former co-workers at St. Vincent de Paul. “One of the things I’ve loved most about working here is that we are all family,” he said. “It’s a very special place.”