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The City of Portland, Oregon

Office of the Ombudsman

A division of the Portland City Auditor's Office

phone: 503-823-0144

email: ombudsman@portlandoregon.gov

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 310, Portland, OR 97204

Portland Housing Bureau

Year

Problem

Resolution

2015

A homeowner involved in a Portland Housing Bureau home rehabilitation program contacted the Ombudsman to complain about an interaction she had with a Bureau manager. The homeowner alleged that the manager insisted on meeting at her home against her will. The homeowner recorded the meeting.

The Ombudsman investigated and found that the Bureau manager’s actions and treatment of the homeowner were inappropriate. The Ombudsman found that a City staff person forcing someone to meet at the community member’s private home to be inherently intimidating. The Ombudsman also found the manager’s approach and decisions pertaining to the homeowner to be heavy-handed and arbitrary. Among other things, the Ombudsman recommended the Bureau manager provide a written apology to the homeowner.

The Bureau manager initially agreed with the recommendation, and the Ombudsman worked with the Bureau manager to craft a meaningful apology. The Bureau manager then decided against apologizing based on advice from the City Attorney’s Office. Eventually the Bureau manager issued a minimal apology, which satisfied the homeowner.  

2015

 

A business was accused of fraudulently obtaining thousands of dollars’ worth of Housing Bureau funded subcontracts under a City program designed to help businesses owned by women and minorities. Despite strong evidence that the business acted as a pass-through for a non-minority, male-owned business, state regulators declined to take action. 

The Ombudsman spoke with local, state and federal law enforcement officials. The Oregon Department Justice stepped up and agreed to pursue the case. The result was a settlement of the state’s allegations under the Oregon False Claims Act, requiring the business to pay $15,000 and relinquish its state certification as a minority- and woman-owned business.