Many cities are grappling with the complexities of neighborhood change, gentrification, and shifting geographies of racially segregated poverty. One of the greatest policy challenges is how to support residents to be able to stay in place, and, even more difficult, how to return to the neighborhood after it’s begun to gentrify. Portland’s N/NE Preference’s Policy is among the first in the nation to recreate housing access in a historical community of color for those whose families experienced displacement due to urban renewal and gentrification. By evaluating the impacts of this policy on community well-being in the early years of implementation, we hope to inform continued policy implementation in Portland and to contribute knowledge regarding the uses and effects of housing policies designed to repair legacies of racial and spatial inequality.

Key Findings

The multi-year study resulted in the following key findings:

  • The Preference Policy is serving the intended population. However, it is differentially serving residents, based on their distinct needs 

  • Place matters to residents housed through the Preference Policy. There is a particular value to living in a historically Black neighborhood

  • Most residents are experiencing improvements in some aspects of well-being. In addition to the value of living in a Black community, many are achieving economic stability, and benefiting from residing in a high-opportunity neighborhood 

  • Many residents also experience threats to their well-being. These are most often as a result of building environment challenges, neighborhood environment challenges, and affordability concerns. 

Policy Implications

The N/NE Preference Policy positively contributes to resident and community well-being. However, the lived experience within affordable housing developments can significantly diminish well-being. 

A holistic community development strategy that attends to neighborhood safety, equity, and affordability is necessary to meet the broader goals of advancing racial reparation and equity in N/NE Portland.