Sources: Who's to blame for gentrification?
The gentrification of close-in African-American neighborhoods is not only a Portland problem, according to a comprehensive analysis in the April 29 issue of The New York Times. Although city officials have been apologizing and offering reparations to African-American households displaced by redevelopment over the past 20 years, gentrification has been accelerating in such neighborhoods across the country since 2000, according to the article headlined, "The neighborhood is mostly black. The home buyers are mostly white."
"The pattern, though still modest in scope, is playing out with remarkable consistency across the country — in ways that jolt the mortgage market, the architecture, the value of land itself," reads the article.
Although some public policies may contribute to it, the article quotes several experts who say the trend is fueled by wealthier white households deciding they want to live near urban centers, and developers who realize the aging houses in such neighborhoods are nearing the end of their useful lives, but can be purchased and resold for a profit by being renovated or replaced with new ones. Although the story focused on Raleigh, North Carolina, the examples and accompanying photos resemble what is happening in North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods.
Second-guessing Oregon Harbor of Hope
The City Council may be asked to review the design of the homeless "navigation center" being constructed near the east end of the Broadway Bridge as it nears completion.
On April 18, the Design Review Commission agreed that there are no current design standards governing such a large, temporary structure in the River District — which is designed to offer wrap-around services for homeless people — and to set a June 27 vote on whether to refer the issue to the council. By then the structure will be nearly finished.
The facility is being built by the nonprofit Oregon Harbor of Hope on land owned by the city. A nearby resident appealed the project to the commission, arguing that it did not meet Portland design standards for the area. A staff report concluded that no existing standards govern it.
The council can waive zoning and other requirements for the facility under the housing state of emergency it has declared.
Let's get ready to rumble
The upcoming City Council deliberations on next year's budget could be the most contentious in recent memory. Although Mayor Ted Wheeler released his recommended budget on Wednesday, May 1, commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Jo Ann Hardesty already have signaled they may propose substantial changes.
Eudaly first said she wants to raise an additional $50 million for homeless services when the council voted to extend the housing state of emergency for two more years in late February. At the time, she suggested a tax of vacant housing units, saying there are currently 16,000 empty apartments in Portland.
Since then, the Revenue Division has provided her with information on other options, ranging from an income tax on the wealthiest Portlanders to a property levy, The Oregonian has reported.
In the meantime, Hardesty proposed her own budget priorities following a public forum she convened on April 13. They include creating a Portland Street Response mental health program, restoring a rapid response vehicle at Fire & Rescue and emphasizing resiliency planning to help ensure resident safety during major public safety events.
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