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Brian Stimson of The Skanner News
Published: 10 June 2011

Portland Commissioner Nick Fish announced an action plan for the city's housing discrimination problem.

Investigations using undercover "renters" in Portland over the past year have revealed that a number of landlords in the city treat Black, Hispanic and disabled people differently than their White counterparts.

The action plan – which includes a partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries– requires:

1)      A streamlined reporting process through the Fair Housing Council of Oregon and Legal Aid Services of Oregon; increased education for tenants about their rights;

2)      Increased education for landlords about the law;

3)      Robust enforcement of anti-discrimination policies;

4)      At least annual testing of whether landlords are abiding by anti-discrimination laws;

5)      Creation of a fair housing advocacy committee;

6)      A public information campaign aimed at changing hearts and minds about fair housing;

7)      Creation of a citywide housing strategy;

8)      Expand the supply of accessible, affordable homes;

9)      Make public investments in projects that mitigate the negative consequences of gentrification

Read the complete action plan at www.portlandonline.com/PHB

John Trasvina, assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for Housing and Urban Development, told reporters that the federal department was not just approving actions to decrease the incidents of discrimination in Portland, but were committed to being a full-fledged partner.

"I'm convinced the city has the will and capacity to tackle this problem," he said.

He said it would take a more comprehensive approach than just dealing with individual cases of housing discrimination. As an example, he said a recent investigation into the discrimination of a woman on maternity leave lead to the discovery of systemic discrimination by a company. Policies were changed and a victim's restitution fund was established as a result of the investigation, affecting far more than the one person who initially reported the discrimination. 

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