In Portland, gentrification is a topic that focuses on a wide array of social issues addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals. These include poverty, health and wellbeing, affordability, economic growth, reduced inequalities, peace & justice, and sustainable cities & communities.
Gentrification is defined as the process of changing the character of a neighborhood through the influx of more affluent residents and businesses.Gentrification is a process that has been occurring in urban settings, since there were urban settings. In modern times, “gentrification occurs when a neighborhood has attractive qualities but remains relatively low value” (Bates 2013). Gentrification isn’t inherently racially targeted; but combined with historical acts of segregated housing practices, those who are most disturbed by gentrification are people of color (POC) and the poor.
Oregon has a long history of racially segregating people to undesirable (often dangerous or unhealthy) areas, and then displacing those people as the same area later becomes desirable during housing crisis’. This includes the systematic relocations of POC to Vanport, in the Rose Quarter district to build the Moda Center, to build the I5 corridor (Bureau of Planning 1993), MLK, Alberta and Mississippi avenues, and so on.
Once more, Portland is facing a housing crisis. As we look for solutions to solve it, are we doing enough to prevent displacement? The process of rapid gentrification is still happening (See Division street, or 23rd avenue). Similar patterns of development are repeating themselves, there are increasing pressures on property owners, and movements against citizen participation through the stripping of powers of the Neighborhood Association.
On the positive side, increased awareness has led to N/NE Community Development Action plans, housing programs that are focused on affordable housing, home repair programs and wealth creation for what remains of the African American community, sustainability initiatives for low income and displaced communities and initiatives aimed at equity within the Bureau of Development Services. These things are necessary, but are they sufficient?
Bates, Lisa. (2013) https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/454027
Bureau of Planning. (1993) https://multco.us/file/portlandsafricanamericanhistory-albinacommunitypdf