As the people in the purview of The Southeast Examiner try to get a handle on density building, increasing rents and housing costs, there is another group of people being displaced by the same mass migration and housing shortages. These are the residents living in the next tier out – East Portland beyond I- 205.
At a recent meeting of the East Portland Action Plan (EPAP), people from this community were able to tell about the plight they are facing as the gentrification of Portland accelerates. Many of the people being displaced are immigrants to this country and already face language and cultural challenges that other citizens don’t even have to consider.
Several people gave testimonials of the severe hardships they are facing after being priced out of their rental units and now living with relatives, in motels and inadequate apartments, a few steps away from being homeless. Not only are individual residents being affected but small businesses, that have been around for years, are also being displaced as the land becomes more attractive to development speculators.
This meeting was only one in a series that have been taking place by the EPAP, a division of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, to help people learn about their rights. The meetings also provide interpreters for communication.
Speakers offered recommendations to prevent further involuntary displacement in East Portland, the first being that there is power in numbers and that the people need to become civically engaged. (Of the approximately 130 people in attendance, it was apparent that most of them were immigrants and probably didn’t speak fluent English but other languages.)
Lore Wintergreen, the program director, and other staff are working to see that there is a safety net for these people by creating policies and procedures like: Just Cause Eviction Notices (JCE); Rent Stabilization; Minority Contracting; Local Hiring; Living Wage Provisions; Inclusionary Zoning and Home Ownership Retention for People with Low Income, to name but a few.
The East Portland Action Plan Civic Engagement Grants program allocates monies for these type of specific projects to help those who are under-resourced/served and not normally included in decision making. Using this grant money has proven to be the best practice for the East Portland Action Plan’s work in this richly multicultural area.
For immigrants to become engaged in this cause, Wintergreen said the City of Portland will reasonably modify policies/procedures and provide auxiliary aids/services/alternative formats to persons with disabilities and provide language interpretation and translation to individuals with limited or no English language proficiency.
The number to call for help with interpretation at an event or meeting is 503.823.4035 or the City’s TDD at 503.823.6868, or Oregon Relay Service at 1.800.735.2900 To find out your rights as a citizen of Portland go to portlandoregon.gov/OMF/CivilRight or portlandoregon.gov/OMF/ADA NT