Portland’s Housing Audit: Worse Than Originally Thought

Right From the Start

In my column two months ago, I commented on a then recent article in the Oregonian regarding a finding of overwhelming racial discrimination among rental property managers.

All of this urgency to create yet another city agency appears to be motivated by a housing audit conducted earlier this year. It doesn’t make any difference whether you agree with the neutrality of the entity conducting the audit, or with its methods. It’s the response of the mayor and the city commissioners that defines liberalism. When the audit determined that racial discrimination occurred in over sixty percent of the transactions audited, did the city notify the federal or state authorities? No. The Oregonian in an article by Nikole Hannah-Jones quoted City Commissioner Nick Fish in response to a question about whether the discrimination will be prosecuted:

“’That’s not the right question. The intent is to do a balanced approach. I have concluded that the best approach is to look at changes to the system and not just individual remedies.

That’s it. In lieu of enforcing existing, workable laws, Portland opts to create another bureaucracy and impose new burdens on those already obeying the current law.”

A recent article in Willamette Week and subsequently echoed by the Oregonian savaged both the impartiality of the study, the group producing the study and the acceptance of the study by the Portland City Commission. In doing so, it confirmed that a bad situation was far worse than expected.

In my column I had assumed that there was a problem to be addressed – rampant discrimination in rental property managers. I had derided the Portland City Commission for a liberal’s approach to solving a problem – pass another law, create another bureaucracy, issue a press release and rush off to tilt at yet another windmill.

In reality, there was no problem. In reality, the Portland City Commission wanted to create a new bureaucracy, fund it lavishly with local and federal tax dollars, hire more public employees, ensure its longevity by creating a thirty-two member commission of the various special interest groups who support Portland’s liberal establishment and proclaim for the world the mantle of dedicated foes of discrimination. To do so, it had to produce a problem that it must solve. It also wanted to keep a $9 to $11 million dollar federal grant that hires more public employees, who belong to public employee unions, which extracts dues from the employees which are funneled back to Democrats in support of their elections and political causes. (Many refer to this as a money laundering scheme – tax dollars are washed to be used for political elections.)

Enter the Fair Housing Council of Oregon. The Fair Housing Council of Oregon is an advocacy group whose existence is dependent on being able to convince the public that there is discrimination in housing. Its website indicates that its major donors are a variety of federal, state and local government agencies. If a unit of government wants to produce a study demonstrating racial discrimination in housing whom better to retain than a group whose very existence depends on keeping that presumption alive. And, right on cue, they produced a study demonstrating that sixty-four percent of property managers in Portland engaged in racial discrimination. Wow! What a surprise.

Now there have been housing audits conducted in other cities – cities with far greater minority populations, cities with far longer histories of racial injustice, and cities run by administrations far less enlightened in the matters of racial equality than Portland has experienced for the past twenty years. And yet, Portland, Oregon, the bluest of blue cities, the greenest of green cities, the envy of all great bastions of liberalism produced a staggering 64% rate of discrimination.

Did anyone at the City even raise an eyebrow about the accuracy of such an audit? Hell no. It produced exactly the kind of moral outrage the City Commission wanted in order to justify its efforts to produce another bureaucracy – to spend more money. Did anyone in the mainstream press ask a question of either the City Commission or the Fair Housing Council of Oregon at the time of the publication of the audit? Hell no, much like the scandal surrounding admitted child molester Neil Goldschmidt, the mainstream media simply accepted and reprinted the official press releases of the city. Not until, Willamette Week, once again, did the hard work that the mainstream media should have done, was there any serious questions asked.

If this were Portlandia it would be another hilarious episode. But it isn’t. This is yet another instance in which the Portland City Commission spent taxpayer dollars to produce a study to justify a pre-ordained result – a result designed to solve a problem that does not exist by throwing money at an organization without accountability.

Look, there is racial discrimination in rental housing but it does not even approach the scale and alarm of the City Commission’s reaction. And most assuredly it does not approach a justification of spending $9 to 11 Million annually when a multitude of state and federal agencies are already effectively dealing with the problem.

This is liberalism gone wild. And those promoting it should be ashamed.