The Fair Housing Crisis in Portland: Roots of Educational Inequity (A Must Read)

The Oregonian’s Brad Schmidt recently published a four-article series called “Locked Out: The Failure of Portland-Area Fair Housing.”   To get a taste of the article, read this quotable moment: “taxpayer money meant to help break down segregation and poverty is instead reinforcing it.”

On a personal level, I’m outraged because the money that I pay in taxes is actually undermining the work I do in the classroom and the community.  On a community level, I’m outraged because systemic racism and classism continue to play pivotal roles in decisions made about neighborhoods, housing, quality of living, access to resources, and access to strong schools.  

I often hear education advocates and activists say that the movement for equitable education is the civil rights movement of our time.  Maybe the call for fair housing practices and equitable neighborhoods (and access to resources) will become the civil rights movement of our time instead?

As an individual citizen, I don’t know exactly how to respond in a way that is as powerful as my feelings on this series of articles and our local practices.  I will be following up on this post with ideas about how to get involved…if you have ideas or know about organizations that will be acting on these findings, please post here!




2 thoughts on “The Fair Housing Crisis in Portland: Roots of Educational Inequity (A Must Read)

  1. It really was appalling to read what was happening with the housing and the charts were particularly shocking. Of course, my first thought was of the impact on schools. It seems like we always must have some clusters of low income students struggling to get an equitable education. It’s just that we are now moving the problem from inner Northeast Portland out to farther east and farther NW. Looking forward to reading your follow up.

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:

    My Capstone students are diving into articles about neighborhoods, gentrification, fair housing, and more this week as they get started working with our community partners in various areas of the city. Students are working in St. Johns at the James John SUN School Summer Program, in Gresham and SE Portland in the 9th Grade Counts and Puentes programs, at New Columbia with the University Park Day Camp, and in the heart of the city with the Upward Bound Program. While our learning is primarily about education, the intersection between place and education is a strong one and must be examined.

    I’m reblogging an earlier post about the four-part article series run in the Oregonian on the fair housing crisis in Portland because it’s the topic of some of our discussion this week. One of my students, Emily, asked the same question that I have been pondering every since reading this article series — what can we do about it?

    I put together a preliminary list of some ideas and wanted to share them here as well.
    I had a similar reaction to this series of articles — despair and then wondering what to do. Even after talking to colleagues and friends, I’m still not exactly sure what the best course of action is. Here are some of my preliminary thoughts:

    Be aware of what’s going with Home Forward (formerly the Housing Authority of Portland): There are sometimes volunteer opportunities and public forums through this organization.
    Volunteer or advocate through an organization like NW Housing Alternatives: This organization supports low income residents in finding housing but also in resident services (parenting classes, homework clubs for kids, etc.). A former Capstone student of mine works with this organization now, so let me know if you’re interested in connecting.
    There’s actually an upcoming talk on July 10 at the Kennedy School: They’ve been hosting conversations related to the article series all year. This should be a fascinating conversation, and you could get hooked up with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, which is leading the discussion.
    Join your neighborhood association so that you can be part of bigger conversations about place and equity.

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