Portland's Subsidized Segregation

In the first part of a series examining the failure of Portland-area fair housing, Brad Schmidt explains how a region that prides itself on its progressive values and openness to diversity is "harboring a form of institutionalized racial inequity."
June 5, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The four-part investigative series launched by The Oregonian, titled "Locked Out," looks at how public agencies in Portland and its surrounding counties have failed to fulfill the requirements attached to the $170 million a year in federal money they receive for affordable housing. By accepting such funds, the agencies are bound by the federal Fair Housing Act to spread affordable housing across neighborhoods, and avoid concentrating poverty or people of color. "In taking the money," Schmidt notes, "they explicitly promise to identify and dismantle barriers to those efforts."

Unfortunately, in findings that echo a recent report out of Texas, Schmidt's investigation has discovered, "That's not happening."

"Instead, residents who could most benefit from good schools, safe streets, abundant grocery stores, nearby parks and high-achieving role models are largely locked out of the neighborhoods that have them."

"Schmidt's investigation found that taxpayer money meant to help break down segregation and poverty is instead reinforcing it. Housing is subsidized in the poorest neighborhoods and often in areas with above-average minority populations. And few poor people and people of color get to live in desirable communities such as inner Southeast Portland and Lake Oswego."

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Published on Saturday, June 2, 2012 in The Oregonian
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