Adams seeks social sustainability for Portland
By Andy Giegerich, Business Journal Staff Writer
Business Journal Staff Writer
During his State of the City address Friday, Portland Mayor Sam Adams said commissioner Amanda Fritz would lead efforts to close a disparity between poverty rates among white children and children of color.
Later in the day, he spelled out more details, announcing he wants to establish an “Office of Equity” that would create ways for Portland to help reach “social sustainability.”
The office will be formed in conjunction with the city’s Human Rights Commission, the Portland Commission on Disability, community members and city staffers over the next four months.
Primarily, the office would work to reduce the 33.3 percent poverty rate that affects young Portlanders of color. While Portland’s population is 87.5 percent white, the overall minority population grew by 40.7 percent between 2000 and 2008.
The office would build on efforts of former Mayor Tom Potter, whom Adams succeeded.
“The Equity Office will allow us to bring a laser focus to the actions and accountability that are necessary to move us forward,” Adams said in a statement. “The cost of doing nothing is profound, both socially and fiscally. We need to make the promise of opportunity real. We all win when everyone achieves their full potential.”
Washington’s King County has a 21.5 percent poverty rate among young persons of color.
“Racial disparities and challenges facing people with disabilities are but two of the inequities facing Portlanders,” Adams said. “. . .Though some are aware that disparity is an underlying issue in Portland, we’ve perhaps been too polite to tackle inequities in ways that leave lasting change.”
Adams credited reports issued by the State of Black Oregon and the Coalition of Communities of Color for spotlighting the poverty issue.
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