Segregation in Portland (by Guest Blogger Lisa Quijano)

LisaPhotoforBlogPostSo, I looked into two school demographics, the Fair Housing Act, and Oregon Property taxes.  The reason is, I noticed that for the Portland Public Schools, some funding comes from Property Taxes.

DEMOGRAPHICS

This is the 2011-2012 Fact and Figures for Portland Public Schools.  On the second page, you will see the percent of funding that comes from various property taxes, as well as 2011-2012 property taxes of various counties: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files/budget/PPS_InfoSheet_2012_V05.pdf.

This here, are the demographics for James John Elementary, located in St. John’s (where I am doing our capstone project): http://schools.oregonlive.com/school/Portland/James-John-Elementary-School/.

Compare the student demographics from James John to Lake Grove Elementary School, located in Lake Oswego: http://schools.oregonlive.com/school/Lake-Oswego/Lake-Grove-Elementary-School/

The demographics speak loud and clear, however, probably, not at all surprising why the numbers are the way they are.  Look at everything from test scores, to how many students qualify for free or reduced lunch, how many speak English as a second language, and even the breakdown of what the student’s ethnicity are.  What is happening in Portland, I think, can somewhat be contributed in part to Fair Housing Act and Oregon’s property taxes to “a form of institutionalized racial inequity” (Schmidt, http://projects.oregonlive.com/housing/ , 2011).

It’s not so much as schools not honoring Brown vs. Board, because there is some diversity in schools, but Fair Housing and Oregon property tax, that we can continue to see segregation in schools and certain communities.

 FAIR HOUSING ACT

The Fair Housing Act states “The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., prohibits discrimination by direct providers of housing, such as landlords and real estate companies as well as other entities, such as municipalities, banks or other lending institutions and homeowners insurance companies whose discriminatory practices make housing unavailable to persons because of race or color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or disability.” (http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/hce/housing_coverage.php).  Unfortunately, what is being practiced in Portland, is not fair at all.  Portland’s minority population are being bunched together in section 8 housing that is being concentrated in few areas where agencies find it cheaper to build and upkeep than better neighborhoods.

PROPERTY TAXES

“The property tax system is one of the most important sources of revenue for more than 1,200 local taxing districts in Oregon. Unlike income taxes, that are calculated by the taxpayer, property taxes rely on county assessment and taxation offices to value the property, calculate the tax, collect the tax and distribute the money to taxing districts. The Department of Revenue has general oversight of the property tax system in Oregon. We provide support and oversight to the counties to ensure uniformity and equity of property tax administration.” (http://www.oregon.gov/DOR/ptd/Pages/property.aspx)

When we go back to http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files/budget/PPS_InfoSheet_2012_V05.pdf and see the differing dollar amounts in 2011-2012 property taxes (per $1,000 of assessed value).  Essentially then, houses that are located in different parts of the county, houses that are similar in market value, have a wide gap in the assessed value, and therefore, pay different amounts in property tax http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/126280-similar-properties-unequal-taxes all because of measure 47.  Measure 47 is “a key provision (that) took assessed values for each property back to 1995, cut that figure by 10%, then allowed taxable values to rise by 3% a year going forward.  Allowed exception for tax levies approved in a November general election and in even-numbered years or by half of registerd voters at other times” (movingtoportland.net/Oregon/Oregon-taxes).

After reading the four articles by Brad Schmidt, Locked Out-The Failure of Portland Area Fair Housing, http://projects.oregonlive.com/housing/ and http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/126280-similar-properties-unequal-taxes, the Portland Tribune article, please try to answer the following questions.

  1.  Do you think unequal property tax assessment affects funding for schools? Imagine what it would be like if similar properties did pay the same amount in taxes.  Would there be more dollars that schools could use?
  2. Do you think that Fair Housing contributes to segregation in certain communities?
  3. With the rise in numbers of unwilling landlords accepting section 8 vouchers, what other kinds of incentives can be offered to them either for existing or creating new relations with new landlords?
  4. How can government crack down on agencies and/or counties accepting affordable housing money if they are truly not complying with Fair Housing Act by keeping minority populations segregated and not being integrated within the whole community?
  5. Why/How can agencies that accept monies not show accountability and still get away with it and keep getting funding?
  6. How can we combat “not in my area” thinking?
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One thought on “Segregation in Portland (by Guest Blogger Lisa Quijano)

  1. Ok, I’m not really answering any of your questions (sorry), but the information you provided here raises a different discussion question for me: If fair housing authorities were not run like a business, would the system be better? I’m honestly not sure, I would love to hear other peoples’ thoughts. I kind of compare it to heathcare. I think all people are entitled to their basic human needs, including shelter. If fair housing bureaus were forced to function outside of the “money-making” business model, would they better serve the people who need them, or am I being entirely optimistic and naiive?

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