In this week's Hall Monitor, I wrote about the first of four scheduled community forums meant to help city officials spend an extra $20 million on affordable housing in the Interstate Urban Renewal Area—a snaking swath of land (born in 2000) that's done, by some measures, more harm than good to Portland's traditional African American communities.
The packed session, put on by the Portland Housing Bureau was held in the community room over at Highland Christian Center on NE 76th and Glisan, an anchor for the city's displaced African American diaspora. And it made for a fascinating evening spent listening and learning about gentrification and what feels like, in some ways, the futility involved in even attempting to reverse it.
It also was a vehicle for some sobering reading material. A folder handed out to everyone who signed in held five maps showing changes in the city's African American community, per Census data, from 1970 to 2010. You can see a community once concentrated close to the Rose Quarter and lower Albina and inner Northeast steadily pushed up north, peaking in 1990—and then, especially in the decade since the urban renewal area was drawn out, pushed out altogether. (To cheaper places like East Portland, a major theme in this week's cover story.)
Census tracts that were 31 percent African American in 1990, in a city that was 8 percent African American, are now just 15 percent African American, in a city that's now just 6 percent African American.
They're worth a look, so I scanned them in. Start with 1970 before the jump, and then click through to see all the changes since.