First Advisor

Jerry Lansdowne

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Urban Studies and Planning




Area planning & development, Home improvement loans -- Oregon -- Portland, Housing rehabilitation -- Oregon -- Portland, Community development, Urban -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

3, x, 241 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


Recently federal policy aimed at halting decline in urban neighborhoods has included a major focus on housing rehabilitation efforts. In the case of Portland, Oregon, federally funded improvement loans for owner-occupied housing units resulted in the rehabilitation of almost four thousand homes from 1975 until 1978, over twice the number of homes rehabilitated in any other city in the nation. The purpose of the present study was to examine and analyze the city's rehabilitation loan program in two ways. First, the loan process itself was examined to ascertain whether there were any deficiencies in the loan program which should be corrected. The second, and primary, focal point was the specific neighborhoods where rehabilitation loans have been funneled. The impact of the loan programs on the neighborhoods as communicated by their residents determined how successful Portland has been in dealing with urban decline through its loan programs. Prior to gathering primary data on the neighborhoods, several secondary sources of information were used. The Portland Development Commission's in-house evaluations of the loan process demonstrated strong recipient support for the program. A survey of loan recipient files showed loans going to low income families with few assets. Although half of the loans went to married couples, a substantial number of loans went to divorced women and widows. The majority of rehabilitated homes were over fifty years old, and their median assessed value was $16,500. Secondary data was also used to look at outside perceptions of changes taking place in loan neighborhoods. Real estate trends and mortgage and home improvement loan activities suggested that the impact of the government loan programs has not yet been substantial enough to trigger changes in private policies related to the neighborhoods. Primary data for the study came from a random sample survey of four hundred persons in four Portland neighborhoods. Two neighborhoods, one in the north section of the city and one in southeast, where loans have been given, were paired with two control neighborhoods where loans were not available. The survey instrument used contained 72 variables chosen as capable of determining what the impact of the loan program has been on loan recipients, their neighbors, and their neighborhoods. Four outcomes could have stemmed from the loan programs. The first possibility was that people living in the neighborhoods where Housing and Community Development loans have been granted should feel more positive about their neighborhood than those not living in HCD neighborhoods. A second consequence could have been that HCD neighborhoods are upgrading socio-economically. Third, HCD neighborhood residents simply may not have perceived improvements in their neighborhoods, or fourth, even if they perceive improvements, they do not show significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their neighborhoods than holds true for respondents living in the control neighborhoods. The data indicated that although residents in HCD neighborhoods do perceive improvements taking place in their neighborhoods, their levels of satisfaction with their neighborhoods are not significantly higher than satisfaction levels in non-loan neighborhoods. Socio-economic changes may be taking place in the Southeast HCD neighborhood. As for the loan process, the program was rated highly by the recipients of the loans, both in in-house evaluations done for the Portland Development Commission and as reported in the neighborhood survey. The study concludes that the city's efforts provided a solid first step in developing a strong commitment to strengthening inner city neighborhoods, but it is only a first step. A stronger commitment, particularly on the part of private industry, is needed to end urban neighborhood decline.


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Portland State University. School of Urban Affairs.

Persistent Identifier