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Urban policy -- Oregon -- Portland -- Periodicals, Portland (Or.) -- Politics and government -- Periodicals, Portland (Or.) -- Social conditions -- Periodicals


The Housing Subcommittee of the City Club Study of Racial and Ethnic Relations in Portland was charged with studying the availability of housing to members of various ethnic groups in the Portland area. The Subcommittee members found that the charge had two elements: to identify and define racial discrimination that prevents rental or purchase of homes, and identify other barriers that prevent minorities from acquiring safe, comfortable shelter. The Subcommittee's principal findings include:

  • Few anecdotes regarding racial discrimination in housing were heard and statistics indicate low numbers of complaints. Therefore, new government or private policies are not recommended despite the fact that data collection efforts on discrimination in the metropolitan area are inadequate and nationally, experts agree complaint records do not accurately reflect realistic levels of discrimination.
  • A testing program is necessary to identify the true nature and extent of racial discrimination in housing in the Portland area.
  • African-American neighborhoods receive fewer mortgage loans than other Portland neighborhoods. In the last two years, local lending institutions have begun developing programs to address this issue.
  • Many aspects of "business as usual" in the housing, rental and lending industries may present barriers to minorities. Cultural awareness training must become the new "business as usual" to increase housing accessibility for all residents of a richly diverse community.
  • In the United States generally and the Portland metropolitan area specifically, minorities make up a disproportionate percentage of the low-income population. Finding adequate housing is a serious and growing problem for all people living at, below and significantly above poverty level.
  • More public and private efforts are necessary to provide adequate housing for low-income minorities. In the last three years, the Portland area has seen some promising community-based initiatives to make housing available to low-income people, with a focus on neighborhoods with large minority populations. The newly created Portland Housing Center is an example of a public effort to increase housing opportunities for low-income people.
  • Housing cannot be addressed in a vacuum. Housing programs alone will not stabilize families nor rehabilitate neighborhoods. Such programs must be coupled with education, training, and a full spectrum of social services.

Published in City Club of Portland Bulletin Vol. 72, No. 39

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