First Advisor

Sy Adler

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Gangs -- Oregon -- Portland, Gangs



Physical Description

2, vi, 165 leaves 28 cm.


Youth gangs infiltrated Portland's illegal drug trade in the early 1980s. By the mid-1980s, entire neighborhoods in some parts of the city were affected. Residents expressed fear that their children would be drawn into gangs. Violence between rival gangs was frightening. Citizens, law enforcement and social services personnel organized to defend themselves and adjust programs to manage the problem. City officials denied a problem existed until a gang style shooting death forced recognition. The shooting death was catalytic in that it launched an effort to respond with a continuum of services. The House of Umoja was one of the services. The research was a case study of the response by citizens, street level service providers, and government officials to craft a meaningful gang control policy. Two themes were followed: The first addressed forces influencing decision-making and how those decisions shaped the process. The second examined considerations involved in selection of a community-based, residential, culturally-specific program. Data were collected through media accounts of events, organizational documents, and personal interviews utilizing a questionnaire format. The information was used to reconstruct the "story" as it was shaped by events and policy decisions which affected it. It was determined that affected citizens and street level service providers recognized, early on, they were dealing with a more dysfunctional juvenile delinquent. Efforts to respond were valiant, but hampered by lack of support from the levels of government able to allocate funds to build appropriate methods of control. The House of Umoja, part of the continuum of sanctions for gang involved youth, was implemented only after a painful, but rewarding, process involving citizens, strong community leadership, and the support of high ranking officials and influential business persons. Program selection was determined by arguments for establishing stronger ties between youth and their community in order to intervene with a holistic, rather than piecemeal approach. It was also influenced by the reputation of the Philadelphia House of Umoja which had been providing services to African American youth for 25 years.


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