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By The Skanner News
Published: 19 April 2018

Last week Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill requiring the state to more closely examine racial disparities in homeownership in Oregon.

House Bill 4010, which was introduced by a bipartisan coalition including Rep. Mark Meek (D-Clackamas County), Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) and Sen. Lew Frederick (D-Northeast Portland), requires the legislature to create an 11-member task force, which will:

  • Compile data concerning levels of homeownership among people of color in Oregon;
  • Identify barriers to homeownership that people of color in Oregon face;
  • Investigate practices and procedures for approving mortgage loans;
  • Identify discriminatory mortgage loan application and approval practices and procedures that deliberately or inadvertently discriminate against people of color;
  • Identify barriers other than access to mortgage loans or other credit that reduce or prevent home ownership among people of color;
  • Recommend solutions, including legislation, to eliminate any impermissible discrimination or barriers to homeownership and to improve other conditions that reduce or prevent home ownership among people of color in Oregon.

According to the bill text, the task force will consist of two members from among the state senate, two members from the house of representatives, one member representing real estate licensees, one member representing mortgage lenders, one member representing an organization that focuses on educating and assisting people of color in purchasing homes, and four members who represent communities that have suffered historic discrimination or who currently face barriers to homeownership.

According to Allan Lazo, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, the percentage of Black homeownership – nationally and locally -- has remained virtually the same in the 50 years since the passage of the Fair Housing Act. According to the 2016 Portland Housing Bureau State of Housing report, roughly 54 to 57 percent of White households in Portland own their homes, where African Americans, Native Americans and Hawaiian-Pacific Islanders each own homes at rates of roughly 27 percent.

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