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Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2019


Emergency management, Social justice, Urban planning -- Oregon


In the decade following Hurricane Katrina, advocates fighting for the rights of people with disabilities changed the field of emergency management. Their pressure on FEMA led to the establishment of legal and planning precedents to include the needs of the whole community in emergency management.(4) There is now a national, legal requirement to plan for people with disabilities and access and functional needs. Despite this important victory for people with disabilities, there have been no direct legal or policy actions that address the disproportionate response along racial and socio-economic lines.

The theory of social equity has its roots in social justice, health care, and education. The fields of urban and regional planning and community development have begun to integrate these theories into their work, but progress has been confined to pockets of change in grassroots organizations and within departments in regional and local governments. The Portland metropolitan region is an exception—in the last eight years, equity has become an institutionalized planning principle within much of the City of Portland and Multnomah County.


Originally appeared in the Winter 2019 edition of Metroscape, published by the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, Portland State University.

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