'Unprecedented' Portland Community Benefits Agreement Prioritizes Racial Equity

The Broadway Corridor CBA is designed to create high quality jobs, housing, and opportunities for historically excluded communities.

July 22, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

A 32-acre redevelopment project in Portland will be subject to "an unprecedented community benefits agreement (CBA)" that "prioritizes racial equity, delivering good jobs, and benefiting working class residents," writes Meg Walker. "Despite the city’s efforts over the past 30 years to address racial disparities through planning, rezoning, and fair housing policies, many residents continue to feel left out of the development process and priced out of new neighborhoods." A group of more than 20 local organizations, which came together to found the Healthy Communities Coalition (HCC) in 2015, has been working to "ensure new development projects delivered jobs, quality housing, and other opportunities for the people they represented."

"For over 20 years, CBAs have provided low-income communities with the means to obtain living wages, local hiring commitments, and other community economic benefits from developers of large-scale projects. In addition to the broad representation of underserved communities from Portland and a commitment to racial equity, what makes the Broadway Corridor CBA different from most is that it is not a 'public works' project built solely with major public subsidies, but instead a public-private partnership funded primarily through private investment."

The agreement calls for "the creation of 8,800 new jobs prioritizing people of color and women (30% people of color and 15% women), the provision of workforce development funds in the construction and operation phases, and stipulations that affordable housing will comprise approximately 30% of the total units," as well as a commitment to providing grants and low-cost loan to small businesses and carbon reduction and other sustainability goals. 

"While the CBA for this immense public-private project will likely face many challenges in the future (and many residents believe it could have gone further in its scope), this once-in-a-generation opportunity is still raising the bar for equitable and sustainable development."

Monday, July 12, 2021 in The Brookings Institiution

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