Community Resiliency

Rebuilding Community: A Disparate Impacts Analysis and Cross-Cultural Agenda to Prevent Displacement and Gentrification


Oregon’s history of displacement is steeped in the targeted and intentional genocide, exclusion and displacement of people of color. We have witnessed this from the time the Chinook Peoples called what we now recognize as the Portland Metropolitan Area “home”; through Oregon’s Exclusion Laws of the late 1800s to keep African Americans out of the state; and into mid-20th-century redlining and exclusionary zoning. Exclusionary and segregating policies carried out through public planning agencies, real estate, banking and insurance companies have consistently led to remaining communities of color living in disinvested areas. Many of these areas become gentrified later as a result of newer public plans and investments. 

The Nation :: Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Transform the Climate Debate

The Nation :: Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Transform the Climate Debate: What would governments do if black and brown lives counted as much as white lives?

Kresge Foundation :: Everybody’s Movement: Environmental Justice and Climate Justice

Kresge Foundation's Environmental Support Center

“Everybody’s Movement: Environmental Justice and Climate Justice,” Angela Park

USC Dornsife - Program for Environmental & Regional Equity :: The Climate Gap: Inequalities in How Climate Change Hurts Americans & How to Close the Gap

The Climate Gap: Inequalities in How Climate Change Hurts Americans & How to Close the Gap

Hurricane Katrina: Remember and Act for Climate and Racial Justice

Saturday, August 29th will mark ten years since Hurricane Katrina. Its devastation highlights painful histories and issues of racial injustice and inequity in this country—policies, planning and investment that are not entirely unique to New Orleans. 

Katrina also shone a bright light on segregation, disparities in physical and economic mobility, as well as inequitable emergency response and climate policies. And, it showed us how a natural disaster can increase gentrification and displacement.  

We know that climate change makes things worse for low-income communities of color, that it exacerbates existing inequities and reinforces systemic racism.  In the case of New Orleans, not only were low-income communities of color the hardest hit, but inequitable planning and investment dramatically changed the demographics of the City.  Both African Americans and Whites left New Orleans, but many fewer African Americans had the resources to return.  There are nearly 100,000 fewer African Americans in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina—an exodus of 8%.  The share of whites, on the other hand, increased from 26.6% to 31%.[1]   Not only has this exodus clearly contributed to family and community instability, but also has had impacts on the City’s cultural diversity, political representation, and economic opportunities.

Portland’s communities, too, experiencing clear disparities in economic wealth and public investment, are susceptible to impacts of climate change including droughts, floods, and forest fires.  Slower but real emergencies—lack of affordable housing, poor access to healthy or culturally significant foods, or increased exposure to dangerous air quality and toxins—will only accelerate with climate inaction and business and planning as usual.

It is vital we push for change now, because of climate change, because more powerful storms are predicted, and because the painful effects of Katrina are still alive.  We must act on climate, push for equitable investment, and design policies and planning around those most impacted—low-income communities of color. 

This article was featured in Street Roots:

[1] Shrinath, N., Mack V. & Plyer A. (2014).  Who Lives in New Orleans and Metro Parishes Now? Data Center Research? Louisiana: The Data Center.

2015 Oregon HB 3470: the Climate Stability & Justice Act

2015 Oregon HB 3470: the Climate Stability & Justice Act

Sets a framework to fairly phase out fossil fuels and meet existing Oregon greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for 2020 and 2050.  Uses multiple consulting bodies to develop an action plan and timeline based on best science and to provide social and economic benefit to historically underserved and underrepresented communities.  The action plan may include regulations and market-based compliance mechanisms, such as an enforceable safety cap.