A Diverse Portland-Metro Area

Andrew Riley
Thu, 07/28/2016 - 12:10pm

Still Experiencing Stark Disparities

Metro's latest Regional Snapshot makes it clear: the Portland region is growing more diverse every year. Communities of color now make up over a quarter of the metro area's population, but still experience stark disparities.

Although about half of Portland Public Schools students are youth of color, Black, Latino, and Native American students' high school graduation rates are 15-20 percentage points lower than those of white students. Median income for Black families in our region is just under $35,000 per year, barely half that of white families (about $62,000), and Black & Latino youth are more likely to experience poverty now than in the past.

Gentrification, a product of cycles of disinvestment in communities of color and top-down urban renewal, continues to displace families, businesses, and whole neighborhoods. And as part of what's known as the "school-to-prison pipeline," Black youth in Portland are overwhelmingly more likely to be referred to the criminal justice system than their white peers.

When it comes to eliminating disparities and advancing racial justice in our region, there's a lot of work to be done. That's why we're thrilled that Metro voted earlier this month to adopt a new strategic plan to achieve racial equity.

As we work toward ensuring that Portland is both livable and equitable, it's important to understand the human impact of racial & ethnic disparities in the region. Metro released a companion to the latest Regional Snapshot, which features some of the personal stories highlighting just why we need to work collectively to achieve equity in our communities.

In a larger context, it’s also important to understand the Portland area’s history with racial inequities. Portland is widely touted for being one of the most livable cities in the United States. At the same time, as Metro shows, the Portland region is struggling to ensure that livability benefits all Portlanders. The Atlantic takes a deep dive into our city's history of redlining, blockbusting, and forced displacement of communities of color, underscoring the need to keep equity as a core value in urban planning. This is why 1000 Friends has applied our expertise in planning to act as a tool for communities that are actively changing the landscape for the better. 


Photo Credits: Portland Skyline by Holly Hayes, Creative Commons; Soaking by Patrick M., Creative Commons