Metro's Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion guides all of Metro’s work. The plan includes specific goals and objectives to ensure that all people who live, work and recreate in the greater Portland region have the opportunity to share in and help define a thriving, livable and prosperous region.
Here’s what that looks like in supportive housing services:
People of color will be served at higher rates
While people of color make up 29% of all people in greater Portland, a January 2019 count in Portland found that 36% of people experiencing homelessness were people of color, including 14% people of Indigenous ancestry (who are only 1% of greater Portland’s population). These numbers show that, while the majority of people struggling with houselessness in our communities are white, people of color are unhoused at higher rates across the greater Portland region.
Supportive housing services will serve people of color at higher rates than the general population, and will show equal or better outcomes for people of color, to account for and correct these disparities.
People of color will get affirming and effective services
Beyond higher rates of houselessness, many people of color experience racism within the very systems they go to for help. Historic and current racism, racial violence, and disinvestment in and displacement of communities of color have created distrust of government and service systems for many.
These new flexible funds will increase the availability of culturally specific services across the region, improve outreach and language access and improve outcomes for people of color.
Communities of color shape the program
Finally, housing policy has excluded and harmed communities of color. Due to racist practices in real estate, rental markets and social services, thousands of people throughout greater Portland haven’t had and still don’t have access to education, income, health, wealth-building and other necessities to thrive.
Supportive housing services addresses this harm by involving communities of color in planning at every stage. The creation of the measure itself and each of the county’s action plans are community informed processes that prioritize participation of people of color and build from their input to the goals and outcomes you see here.
The work of advancing racial equity goes far beyond what one program can achieve. Underlying issues of white supremacy and racism within each system in our society will not be remedied by the efforts within this program, and must also be changed in order for people of color to experience truly equitable lives in communities throughout greater Portland. The role of racial equity in supportive housing services is to move individuals and communities away from experiences of racism in houselessness, housing and social services, and toward more just, equitable, safe and stable housing for all.