Last weekend, the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) concluded a series of community forums to solicit public input for a $20 million investment earmarked for affordable housing in North and Northeast Portland. A packed house for the fourth and final forum at New Song Community Church included Mayor Charlie Hales, representatives from Commissioner Saltzman's office, Bishop Steven Holt from the International Fellowship Family, and nearly 150 area residents.
Mayor Hales took questions from the community and shared how he first became aware of disparities in housing opportunity as a youth growing up in Virginia. He described watching an African American neighbor collect materials little by little to build himself a house, because he knew he'd never qualify for a bank loan. "It wasn't that someone discriminated against him," Mayor Hales said. "The system had discriminated against his opportunity."
Addressing Portland's history of displacement has been PHB's priority in developing this community-based process to shape the housing plan. Displacement has had a disproportionate impact on Portland’s communities of color, reducing the African American population in parts of North and Northeast Portland by more than half since 1990.