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Communities of color, immigrants, and refugees often experience disparities in the ability to access homeownership, find housing that supports multigenerational households, and live in healthy neighborhoods close to parks and schools, among other inequitable housing outcomes.
For example, city staff conducted research that demonstrates that neighborhoods with mostly single-family zoning in Beaverton are significantly white and less racially diverse than multifamily neighborhoods. The people that live in these neighborhoods are also more likely to own their homes, providing long-term financial security through the ability to build equity in their homes and share this wealth with future generations.
Of all communities of color, the Latinx community is least likely to live in neighborhoods with mostly single-family zoning. They are four times more likely to live in neighborhoods with mostly multifamily zoning. Other groups that are less likely to live in neighborhoods with mostly single-family zoning include people that are Black, multiracial or identify as “some other race” on census forms.
Census-based research also indicates that there is a correlation between growing up in these Beaverton neighborhoods and improved outcomes in adulthood. The data does not tell us why but encourages people to think of local solutions that might help improve educational and financial outcomes for children that grow up in different types of neighborhoods. Eliminating housing disparities might be one way to help improved outcomes for these children.
The city is using a racial equity toolkit developed by the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) to bring racial equity into the decision making for this project.
Using a racial equity toolkit helps us define equitable housing outcomes; determine if the project might have disparate impacts in certain areas; consider the racial demographics of people living in these areas; prioritize engagement for communities of color, immigrants, and refugees most likely to benefit from or be impacted by policy decisions; develop strategies that advance racial equity; create a plan for implementation; and ensure accountability.
As part of our efforts to incorporate a variety of ideas and perspectives into the city’s housing projects and programs, we established a new group that is comprised of culturally and racially diverse community members with an interest in housing.
In partnership with Unite Oregon, the city formed the Inclusive Housing Cohort. Unite Oregon is a community organization led by people of color, immigrants and refugees, rural communities and people experiencing poverty to build an intercultural movement for justice in Oregon.
The cohort held its first meeting in January 2020. The Inclusive Housing Cohort will provide input into several housing-related projects being led by the city, including the Metro Affordable Housing Bond Implementation, the Housing Options Project, and the Cooper Mountain Community Plan.
In addition to the Inclusive Housing Cohort, we are hosting housing-focused community meetings with interpretation available during the meeting, and in some cases, translated materials available prior to the meeting. In the past year, we have held community meetings with Spanish, Chinese, Thai, and Farsi interpretation available during the meeting.
By expanding what housing types are allowed in residential neighborhoods, and by reducing the minimum lot size required for newer housing types, over time more housing should be available, to buy or rent, at a variety of price points in many neighborhoods. Still, new housing can be expensive. With that in mind, we are meeting with affordable housing providers, such as Habitat for Humanity and Proud Ground, to explore how we can better support their mission to provide affordable housing. And we are working closely with Beaverton’s Housing team to identify other strategies that could ensure greater home ownership within these communities.
You can learn more by reading the city’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan.
You can also read more about the experiences of eight specific communities in Washington County by reading the Leading with Race report, researched and written by the Coalition of Communities of Color.
This report establishes that the root causes of inequitable housing practices (such as segregated neighborhoods, limited housing options, and differences in homeownership rates) are complex and varied. As stated in the report, “they are the cumulative result of racist institutions and practices like immigration and criminal justice policies, opportunity and achievement gaps of students and mortgage lending practices,” to name a few.
Read the Executive Summary of the Leading with Race report.