Housing Discrimination in East Portland

The newspaper article below expresses the continuing discrimination against persons with mental illness in the housing, neighbor relations, and the media.

We were recently told over 60 persons were kept under lock and key at the state hospital for no reason other than there is no housing available outside of the hospital for them. This is a violation of their civil rights, their human rights, and arguably a crime. Ignorant neighbors like those in Portland’s Centennial neighborhood are largely to blame.

The media perpetuates the Not-In-My-Backyard discrimination by giving voice to the ignorant and uninformed. The Oregonian reports a wide variety of news about persons with mental illness – not all of it well-meaning or well-informed. We can get their story straightened out by telling our stories of housing discrimination.

ACTION ITEM: Contact Richard Bixby, Executive Director, East Portland Neighborhood Office, rbixby@ci.portland.or.us – phone: (503) 823-4501. Bixby is a city employee and an accountable person for issues about use of neighborhood resources.

ACTION ITEM: Write a letter to the editor of the Oregonian, Therese Bottomly at theresebottomly@news.oregonian.com

ACTION ITEM: Learn more about ColumbiaCare Services.

Home for mentally ill worries East Portland neighbors, Oregonian, February 20, 2010

The opening of a home for two mentally-ill people in the Centennial neighborhood of East Portland brought about a dozen angry and suspicious neighbors to Betty Englestad’s home tonight to confront the home’s operators and state officials.

“Why were we not notified?” Englestad asked. “Maybe if we had known, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Jennifer Jones, communications manager for Medford-based ColumbiaCare Services, Inc., explained that federal fair housing law doesn’t allow them to do that.

“We have to protect the residents’ confidentiality, and try to avoid discrimination or harassment,” Jones said.