For the past twenty years our region has experienced the continuous displacement of people of color, due largely to gentrification and housing discrimination. The trend has been relentless: our communities are more highly segregated by income and by race with each passing year. Safeguards to discrimination and segregation as mandated by the Fair Housing Act are largely ignored. The same goes with directives issued by our local housing authorities. Worse yet, local options for addressing the many obstacles to fair housing are limited by state legislation, passed in 1999, that favors wealthy developers, leads to concentrated poverty, and contradicts Fair Housing standards.
A crucial step is being taken toward establishing more fair and equitable housing options in Oregon. A coalition of organizations, of which OPAL is a part, is working to repeal the ban on inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) refers to city planning strategies that require new development to include affordable housing units. The current ban means that communities cannot use this tool to address their local housing needs. Research shows that new affordable housing units are nearly always located in census tracts of the lowest income levels, essentially barring low-income families from access to good schools, centers of employment, and healthy communities. Ours is one of only two states in the country to forbid the use of IZ in land use planning; the other being Texas. This is a distinction we need to remove ourselves from. Oregon House Bill 2890 would return local control to communities by allowing them to propose that inclusionary zoning principles be a part of their planning efforts.
Why is OPAL concerned? Fair Housing is an integral part of Environmental Justice. Where we live determines the quality of the air we breath, the transportation options we have, the work and educational opportunities that are available to us. We need to ensure that people of all income levels are able to access housing that promotes their health and well-being. For a visual representation on how IZ can combat housing discrimination and concentrated poverty, take a minute to view this presentation.
Wednesday, March 13th:
East Portland Housing Justice Workshop: Peace Church of the Brethren, 12727 SE Market @6 PM
TriMet Line #71
Thursday, March 14th:
Rally at the Capital! A bus is being coordinated to transport folks who want to attend. Check back for pickup location and expect a full day (8:30am-4:00pm).