June 13, 2011
Last Friday, I announced the city's first Fair Housing Action Plan to combat housing discrimination in our community.
I was honored to be joined by two strong partners: State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and HUD Assistant Secretary John Trasvina.
The plan combines vigorous enforcement of our fair housing laws, enhanced education of tenants and landlords, regular testing of landlords, and the creation of a new Fair Housing Advocacy Committee.
The early reviews are in.
The Oregonian called it a "bold plan" and said it's "especially heartening that the city is going to do something loud" about rental discrimination.
Secretary Trasvina declared that Portland has "the will and the capacity to make a difference."
The announcement capped a series of unprecedented actions which Director Margaret Van Vliet and I have taken since we received the alarming results of fair housing audit tests in February.
The tests revealed pervasive bias in rental housing. In over 60% of the tests, Black and Latino testers were treated differently than White testers.
Working with community advocates, civil rights leaders, and housing providers, we took action.
We released the names of the landlords who showed discriminatory practices, referred the audit tests to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries for enforcement, and released our plan.
In the course of three short months, we placed fair housing at the top of the City's agenda.
The Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968, one week after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. 43 years later, we still have much work to do.
Thank you for your help and support as we move forward.