Real Estate & Property Law

'Subsidized Segregation' Keeps Struggling Minorities in Low-Income Areas, News Investigation Finds


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Nearly 45 years after a landmark federal fair housing law was enacted, and 20 years after a Multnomah County study determined that housing discrimination was still widespread in the Portland, Ore., area, low-income minorities remain concentrated in certain parts of the greater metropolitan area, reports the Oregonian. Its account is the first of four lengthy articles on a disconnect between what is said and what is done concerning compliance with fair housing law in the Portland area.

Meanwhile, despite federal government subsidies that are supposed to be spent with an eye toward encouraging desegregation and a local government policy of encouraging integrated development and testing for fair housing violations, little has been done toward actually achieving these goals, the newspaper recounts, describing the local situation as one of “subsidized segregation” in its articles.

Portland “has experienced the greatest decline in segregation in the past 30 years of any major city, at least that I’m aware of,” professor John Logan of Brown University tells the newspaper, based on a 2010 study he conducted. But that resulted, in part, from gentrification that pushed thousands of residents out of Northeast Portland’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Not only in Oregon but nationwide, “it turns out that for all the progress that’s been made, residential segregation is the toughest nut to crack,” says Craig Gurian, a civil rights attorney known for his involvement in a landmark 2009 settlement in Westchester County, an upscale suburb of New York City. “There hasn’t been the political will, or frankly the pressure, on local governments to make change. So the segregated status quo is able to remain in place.”

The full series can be found on an Oregonian page that also links to fair housing law.

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