Rebuilding Community

June 2017 Equity Lens :: Bridges Update

Bridges Alumni Provide Metro Input on their Equity Plan

Bridges Alumni participating in focus group discussions with Metro & Momentum Alliance.

Bridges Alumni participating in focus group discussions with Metro & Momentum Alliance.

This spring and summer, Metro has partnered with the Momentum Alliance, the CCC and our Bridges Alumni to help Metro better understand community priorities as they relate to the new 5-year equity strategy Metro has developed. This community summit focused on setting priorities for 4 of their prominent departments; Parks and Nature, Oregon Zoo, Property and Environmental Services, and Planning. This spring we had 36 participants from the tri-county region comprised of alumni representing all of our culturally specific Bridges Leadership Development Initiative programs. Participants will return in September to review the qualitative data collected by the CCC and Metro for a second round review. Final recommendations on community priorities will be finalized this October. 


Remembering: Vanport 69th Anniversary

The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it..history is literally present in all that we do.
— James Baldwin
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  Source: City of Portland Archives

Source: City of Portland Archives

This past month, May 30th, 2017 marked the 69th anniversary of the Vanport flood. CCC wants to take a moment to remember this tragedy as it provides all of us with a critical lens into Oregon’s history surrounding race and class. This tragedy also gives us context for the importance of using a racial equity lens when we think about issues surrounding, housing, employment, healthcare, and more. Because we understand our history and how we are unconsciously controlled by it, CCC and our members are committed to reshaping our future. Click here to access our resource, ReBuilding Community, developed by the CCC, Redefine, and Urban League of Portland. This report provides a disparate impacts analysis and cross-cultural agenda to prevent displacement and gentrification. 


Have you joined the Bridges Online Directory?

 

Are you alumni from one of our Bridges Leadership Initiatives? Make sure to create a profile on our Bridges Online Directory so we can stay in touch about more paid civic engagement opportunities like these.  

 

June 2017 Equity Lens :: Redefine Update

The 2016 elections and federal level rollbacks on pro-people of color and pro-climate policies have only heightened the important role of states, cities, organizations, and communities in leading racial, environmental, and climate justice efforts. 

Redefine: CCC's Initiative for Environmental and Climate Justice and the Climate Justice Collaborative focus on building leadership and capacity within communities of color and driving racially just environmental and climate solutions at the state and local level. Moreover, the CCC is focused on building strong coalitions and understands the intersections of issues and movements. We have offered just a snapshot of our efforts below. These priorities will make our communities more resilient, address climate change and work to eliminate racial disparities.  


Climate and Energy Justice

On June 1st President Trump began the process of pulling out the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, increasing the disastrous effects of pollution and climate change on our communities and slowing the transition to an equitable, clean energy economy. However, on the same day, Multnomah County and the City of Portland became the first communities in the Pacific Northwest to commit to being powered by 100% renewable energy by 2050.
 
We know communities of color, low-income communities, Native American tribes, and immigrants and refugees are hit first and worst by climate change and the pollution that drives it. We also know we must shift our exploitive economy (profit-driven, growth-dependent, and industrial) to one that is regenerative (sustainable, equitable and just for all its members)—and our communities must be at the center of fighting the bad and building the new. A Just Transition must:

  • Shift economic control to communities
  • Democratize wealth and the workplace
  • Advance ecological restoration
  • Relocalize most production and consumption
  • Retain and restore cultures and traditions
  • Drive racial justice and social equity

Read more about the regenerative economy and Just Transition framework through Movement Generation.That is why Verde, the CCC, and partners like OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Community Action Partnership of Oregon (CAPO), and Northwest Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (NWSEED) pushed and secured provisions in the 100% Renewable Resolutions that prioritized:

  1. Holding low-income ratepayers harmless during this energy transition, which is fundamental to ensuring that access to the financial and environmental benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy is shared equitably across all economic classes.
  2. Requiring clear commitments to community-based development and ownership of renewable energy infrastructure, which people of color and low-income people can use to meet their priorities. The City and County are required to support capacity building of organizations to realize these goals.

What does this mean? This means our communities can define our energy and economic future, by envisioning, planning, and developing an economy, energy savings, and benefits that serve local community needs. Much of today’s energy policy rewards those with economic means to maintain a low-carbon lifestyle rather than reducing financial, technology, and ownership barriers for communities already leading and innovating—communities of color, low-income communities, and tribes. Climate justice means not only shifting from exploitive fossil-fuel based sources of energy, but also dismantling corporate control of energy sources and transitioning to democratic, community-based control.
 
Learn more about energy democracy and community-based energy:

 A big thank you to Multnomah County (Chair Kafoury, Commissioner Vega Pederson, County Commission, and Office of Sustainability) and the City of Portland (Mayor Wheeler, City Council, and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability) for supporting this vision.


Housing Justice, Rent Stabilization, and Climate Resilience

The CCC released a report “Building Community: A Disparate Impacts Analysis and Cross-Cultural Agenda to Prevent Displacement and Gentrification” written by the CCC and Urban League of Portland and funded by Meyer Memorial Trust. The “Rebuilding Community” brief is based on the experiences of many of Portlanders from communities of color, advocacy organizations and a series of culturally-specific focus groups held over six months. It provides a vivid narrative of the impact of barriers to people finding a stable home. The report recommends policymakers can help slow the displacement of communities of color by passing legislation like HB 2004A, which limits evictions without cause against individuals and families who follow the terms of their leases.
    
Housing Stability and Anti-Displacement: What does environmental and climate justice have to do with it?

Investments in environmental and climate justice strategies do not work if they do not include investments in housing stability and affordability. Lack of affordable, safe and energy efficient housing leads to heightened displacement, worsening existing environmental injustices such as communities located near high traffic and pollution corridors; increased distances to healthy foods, jobs and community centers; less ability to afford energy or water costs due to increased transportation costs; and less access to public transit and walkable neighborhoods.

Displacement of our communities to the outskirts of cities directly contributes to climate pollution due to increased travel distance, prevents equitable access to new climate resilient infrastructure and environmental benefits, and decreases economic stability. People experiencing homelessness are overexposed to environmental hazards such as pollutants, extreme weather, and incomplete pedestrian infrastructure—clear environmental injustices. Moreover, increasing climate impacts in other parts of the country are making the Portland metro region a more attractive place to live in. Of course, climate change is just one factor among many that influence people to move, but as climate change heats up, many have theorized that migration to the Portland and the Pacific Northwest will accelerate, which will make housing even more expensive.

Combating displacement through strategies like equitable development, affordable housing, local minority contracting and construction, and energy savings is a climate, economic and community resilience strategy. We recognize that climate solutions can stabilize neighborhoods and communities and help alleviate poverty.
 
For more legislative updates see REDEFINE’s most recent newsletter here.
 

CCC News Release: "Rebuilding Community" Report Released

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NEWS RELEASE

Contact:
Dani Ledezma, Interim Executive Director  
(503) 381-9990
dani@coalitioncommunitiescolor.org

Limits to No-cause eviction are necessary to reduce displacement of Oregonians of Color.

“ReBuilding Community” report released by the Coalition of Communities of Color and Urban League of Portland recommends passing HB 2004

According to the “ReBuilding Community” report, policymakers can help slow the displacement of communities of color by passing HB 2004, which limits evictions without cause against individuals and families who follow the terms of their leases. Community leaders from the Coalition of Communities of Color and the Urban League of Portland released this report highlighting cross-cultural and community-specific solutions to address our housing crisis.  The report was funded by Meyer Memorial Trust.

Advocates are sharing the report with Oregon lawmakers currently debating HB 2004, so that policymakers can better understand the disproportionate effect that the lack of tenant protections has on communities of color.

“The Urban League and the member organizations of the Coalition of Communities of Color hope that highlighting the experiences of Black Oregonians will motivate lawmakers to do the right thing. After years of watching while our communities were pulled apart, with the help of state and local government investments, this legislature can act to end the unjust practice of no-cause evictions. Without legislative action, no-cause evictions will continue to hurt their constituents and the character of the neighborhoods that we call home,” said Nkenge Harmon Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Portland.

Today, Oregon’s housing laws allow any property manager or landlord to - at any time - kick people out of their homes without giving a reason. These notorious “no-cause” evictions are traumatizing because they rip children from schools, destroy communities, and displace low-income families, throwing them into crisis, and often causing homelessness.

The “Building Community” report is based on the experiences of many Portlanders from communities of color, advocacy organizations and a series of culturally-specific focus groups held over six months. It provides a vivid narrative of the impact displacement, and gentrification has on communities.

According to the “ReBuilding Community” report, no-cause evictions are today’s example of state-sanctioned practices that displace communities of color. Historic segregation, fueled by redlining, property seizures by local jurisdictions, block busting, racist lending practices, and many other policies have resulted in communities of color living in historically underinvested areas. As neighborhoods become more popular attracting public investments and development, they also gain in value and trigger property managers and landlords to raise rents and use no-cause evictions to reach a higher paying market for their units. Residents are pushed out of their homes and often seek affordable rents miles away from their historic neighborhoods.

Families of color are much less likely to own their homes than white families and have less wealth accumulation according to Pew Research Center.  Now, rental homes are also increasingly out of reach. A report released Thursday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition showed that the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Oregon jumped 27 percent in the last five years, from $807 in 2012 to $1,028 in 2017. It would take an income of $19.78 an hour to afford the apartment in a state where the median income is $18.26 an hour, and people of color earn half the median income.

“Our members have experienced no-cause evictions used as a tool to discriminate against them. Their landlords wanted to make way for ‘different’ kinds of tenants,” says Katrina Holland, Executive Director of Oregon Community Alliance of Tenants, “Let’s call that what it is: coded language specifically talking about communities of color. It is unacceptable and we refuse to believe that our legislators are okay with that loophole perpetuating systemic racism, prejudice, and oppression. HB 2004 is an essential policy that helps stem the tide of displacement and end the discriminatory practices that cause instability for families and individuals.”

HB 2004 would prohibit no-cause evictions from large landlords and property managers after a nine-month waiting period, giving much needed protections and stability for people who rent their homes. It is currently waiting for a vote in the Oregon Senate.

The impacts of displacement for mothers and children of color are devastating. There are a record number of homeless children in Oregon today. According to school surveys, some 21,352 pre-schoolers and K-12 students experienced homelessness during the 2015-16 school year. “ReBuilding Community,” highlights a survey from the Multnomah County Health Division that surveyed pregnant African American women and their families about how they are being affected by the housing crisis. Twenty-five percent of the women reported having to move or be homeless while pregnant, and 30 percent of the North and Northeast Portland residents had to move out of the area against their will.

“We must take action before leaving Salem. No-cause evictions are unjust, unnecessary, and have a disproportionate effect on communities of color,” said Representative Diego Hernandez, (D-East Portland.) “I see the effects in my district. I hear from my constituents who are left with nowhere to go. Oregon has a record number of homeless children and mothers being forced from their homes with no legal recourse. It's time to pass HB 2004 now.”

Hernandez also says his colleagues in Salem need to hear from communities right now to hear how much support there is for tenant protections. To contact your lawmaker and get involved, go to www.StableHomesOR.org.

To see the full report, go to:http://www.coalitioncommunitiescolor.org/cedresourcepage/rebuildingcommunities

About Coalition of Communities of Color

The Coalition of Communities of Color's mission is to address the socioeconomic disparities, institutional racism, and inequity of services experienced by our families, children and communities; and to organize our communities for collective action resulting in social change to obtain self-determination, wellness, justice and prosperity.