By Janet Byrd
At Neighborhood Partnerships, we know that feeling like you’re in control of your financial health has benefits and ripple effects that spread through homes, workplaces, and communities. When you’re able to sleep soundly and feel confident in making plans for the future, you’re able to dig deeper and be successful at what you aim for. When employees show up ready for work, eager to make the most of the day ahead, we all benefit from a more vibrant economy.
At Neighborhood Partnerships, we know the structures and systems we have created here in Oregon and across the country help build financial health for some of us and not for others. Some of us have found it easier to go to college or develop a skill; some of us have been more able to buy a home; some of us have retirement savings that are growing for us and others have next to nothing.
A recent report from our national partner Prosperity Now illustrates the inequity our current system has helped create. In Oregon, 66% of whites and 63% of Asian American people own homes, while only 35% of African American people do, only 46% of Native American people do, and only 26% of Hawaiian and Pacific Islander people do. Homeownership is still the single greatest way that we in America build wealth, and many homeowners benefited from policy that helped whites access homeownership while other faced barriers.
As a state, we need to get better at turning these policies right side up, so that benefits flow to the people who need them most. So that people and communities who have seen what they’ve been able to accumulate get lost in the wake of financial downturns, predatory practices, or displacement can decide what they need to move their communities forward. We’re excited that the new statewide housing plan has equity as its first goal. We have our sights set on advancing equity in the year ahead (and the year after that, and …). In our next few newsletters, we’ll share more about what that looks like and how we will engage our partners in helping us set goals and how we invite you to hold us accountable.