By Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Sam Adams
Portland has the reputation of being a progressive and innovative city, however, not all Portlanders have access to opportunities or feel welcome. People of color and people with disabilities experience higher rates of poverty and unemployment, and have shorter lifes compared with other Portlanders.
Despite past and current equity-related efforts of various bureaus in the Portland City government, significant disparities persist. The median income for black-headed households is $30,000, while the median income for white-headed households is $46,800 (State of Black Oregon, 2009). Although 26.3 percent of the people living in Multnomah County are of color, nearly 30 percent of people who are unhoused are of color (Communities of Color in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile, 2010). The unemployment rate for persons with disabilities living outside of institutions in Oregon is 74 percent (U.S. Dept of Labor). These numbers do not reflect who we want to be as Portlanders.
What city government has done in the past hasn’t resulted in the desired outcome of everyone sharing in the riches of our city. Disparities persist in city hiring, promotions and contracting, and services in neighborhoods. To achieve different outcomes, we need a different approach. Continue reading