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Q & A with Executive Director Allan Lazo
1) Why is fair housing so important to you? Throughout my previous professional and volunteer work in civil rights and social justice issues, I've come to fully understand the vital role that housing plays in creating access to opportunity.
Housing drives so much more than where we live -- housing choice and equal opportunity in housing is about our access to quality schools, good jobs, transportation options, and neighborhood livability. When we deny housing choice to any members of our community, we're creating -- and in some cases perpetuating -- barriers to success that often take generations to overcome, especially from an economic standpoint given the role that home ownership can play in creating generational wealth.

Certainly, the history of housing discrimination and its continuing effects on many communities of color, not only here in Oregon but everywhere in this country, remain a relevant factor in our society today. I firmly believe that the federal Fair Housing Act and state and local fair housing laws help create and maintain access to opportunity, which plays an important role in creating strong communities throughout Oregon.

I've also started to view our current housing crisis from a supply and demand perspective: a lack in the supply of affordable housing and an extraordinarily high demand for housing in Oregon. These factors combine to create the crisis we are in, and there is work to be done from an advocacy perspective on both sides of that equation. Fair housing laws work to protect the civil rights of many groups of individuals, but the spirit of fair housing also needs to be part of the conversation around how we develop an adequate supply of affordable housing in our communities to ensure that all members of our community experience true housing choice. 

2) What motivated you to join FHCO? My introduction to FHCO came as a volunteer on our bus tours of historic discrimination here in Portland. The tour really helped me understand how much I did not know about how housing patterns developed here in Portland – and created in me a real passion to help end this history of discrimination and these patterns of displacement.

Once I understood my responsibilities in this community and accepted my role in these efforts, supporting the role that FHCO plays in creating those opportunities through enforcement, education, and advocacy became a clear part of where I wanted to expend my energy. I've found great value in being able to talk about the history of discrimination and displacement here in Portland as a volunteer, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to be involved in all of the great work of FHCO on behalf of our board and very dedicated staff.

Our staff members all are individuals committed not only to working tirelessly to serve our community but also committed to embracing our mission to end housing discrimination through access to education and enforcement. These are people who truly believe in the work being done and they not only work to uphold those values everyday but also  live those values everyday as an organization.

3) What are your priorities for FHCO? This is a singularly important point in time for our communities throughout Oregon. I don't believe there has been a time where the conversation about housing has been this pervasive in all corners of our state and at all levels. 

I am working to be sure I have a clear understanding about how we can best help as an organization throughout the state, where all communities are struggling with providing housing choice for residents of all types. Our communities are facing issues ranging from providing adequate farmworker housing in our rural communities to displacement of communities of color and rents that are out of reach for working class residents in our urban centers.

So there is no one solution that will resolve this statewide crisis that is impacting every community, and I am looking forward to lending the voice of fair housing to the wide-ranging solutions needed to end the current crisis in our communities, locally and throughout Oregon. This means that in addition to ensuring that we have a highly functioning and effective organization, I want to get out and meet with as many individuals and organizations as possible throughout the state that are working to end this housing crisis and to find out where we fit in and how we can help. 

…and finally, tell us something about yourself:  I love Oregon! I'm a nearly life-long resident (I came to Portland when I was a one-year old!), and I know that this place is special to everyone that calls it home. I love all that Portland and our entire state has to offer -- from the great outdoors to a manageable urban experience. My wife and I -- and our spirited and sometimes pesky Westie (named Wesley) -- now live in closer-in northeast Portland and enjoy being located close to friends and family.

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In this issue:
Allan Lazo
What is AFFH?
Staff Updates
PAPA Review Project
Lead Hazards
Support FHCO!
Attention Landlords

If you're not familiar with the requirements to disclose lead-based paint hazards to your tenants (prior to contracts, prior to many repairs and renovations) be sure to get up to speed today by calling the free Leadline at (503) 988-4000. Notification is required for all homes built prior to 1978,

Lead in housing was recently in the news. Check out Dangers of Lead Poison on KATU

More information on lead and fair housing
a zip code should not determine a child's future
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing means taking proactive steps beyond simply combating discrimination to foster more inclusive communities and access to community assets for all regardless of protected class status under fair housing laws. 
The PAPAs Project: Oregon Planning, Affordable Housing, and Fair Housing
The Fair Housing Council of Oregon in partnership with the Housing Land Advocates has been reviewing Post Acknowledgement Plan Amendments (PAPAs) to scan for Goal 10 or Fair Housing issues. In its second year, the purpose of this project is primarily to educate jurisdictions across Oregon about their obligations to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). HLA’s involvement is to ensure an adequate and appropriate supply of affordable housing.

Goal 10 (OAR 660-015-0000(10), one of the Statewide Planning Goals, is "to provide for the housing needs of citizens of the state. Buildable lands for residential use shall be inventoried and plans shall encourage the availability of adequate numbers of needed housing units at price ranges and rent levels which are commensurate with the financial capabilities of Oregon households and allow for flexibility of housing location, type and density."

When a jurisdiction makes a change to its Comprehensive Plan, it needs to submit these changes to the Department of Land Conservation and Development 35 days in advance of the first public hearing. FHCO, through a contract with Cogen Owens Greene and HLA, reviews and analyzes all amendments with housing components, or those which might have an impact on housing in that jurisdiction.

A committee comprised of land use attorneys and planners comments on the submitted reports, noting if Goal 10 has been addressed. A letter is then sent out from FHCO and HLA noting any issues. Often the committee is unable to obtain the staff report prior to the public hearing and requests a continuance in order to be able to analyze the PAPA adequately. 

Some of the issues that may have potential fair housing impacts include down-zoning from multifamily to single family residential or commercial, and legislation regarding the number of vacation rentals permitted in a jurisdiction. Mainly, comments run toward ensuring that a jurisdiction analyzes the impact of the amendment on Goal 10 and a jurisdiction’s housing needs.

Jurisdictions have been responding positively and are paying greater attention to Goal 10 impacts. A budding partnership with DLCD has also been a positive impact of this project, which has been funded by Oregon Housing and Community Services and Oregon Business Development Department.
Thanks to Jill Statz, the Cogan Owens Greene staff person working on this project and Brian Powell, an intern working for HLA for all of their work doing the initial reviews, obtaining the staff reports, and drafting letters.

And a big thank you to committee members Ed Sullivan, Al Johnson and Mary Kyle McCurdy for their insight and experience.  We could not do as much as we do without the involvement from HLA President, Jennifer Bragar.  Her time and experience has been an invaluable asset to the success of this project.
Welcome to Yoni Kahn-Jochnowitz, FHCO's new Enforcement Coordinator. Yoni is an attorney and member of the Oregon State Bar. Prior to his arrival at FHCO, Yoni served as a Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Services of Oregon in Linn, Benton and Lincoln Counties, as well as a Policy Advisor to Oregon State Representative Dan Rayfield. Yoni also worked on the legislative staff of U.S. Congressman Eliot L. Engel from 2010-2012. He has a Masters in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and is a very active member of Portland’s Jewish community.

Yoni enjoys exploring Portland’s food scene with his wife, Rebecca, and attending Blazers/Mariners games whenever possible.  
Jo Becker (left) with FHCO education and outreach colleague, Louise Dix, at an FHCO informational table
Jo Becker Moves on from the FHCO
FHCO recently bid a fond farewell to Jo Becker, who served as an E&O Specialist for ten years. During that time Jo trained thousands of housing providers and housing advocates throughout Oregon and SW Washington in understanding fair housing law. She wrote and distributed fair housing articles on a variety of topics for a myriad of publications that reached thousands throughout the state. 

She looks back fondly on these accomplishments.  “I especially enjoyed working with housing providers to help them understand laws that can be very complicated. I’m proud of the professional collaborations FHCO has had with industry groups-that’s something unusual among fair housing organizations nationwide.”Jo’s  skills greatly to FHCO’s education and outreach efforts. She arrived as a professional Realtor(R) who’d been active in the Portland Metropolitan Board of Realtors ® Equal Opportunity Cultural Diversity Committee. At FHCO, she honed her skills in adult education and became certified as a Master Trainer with the Association of Training and Development.

Jo is now taking her proficiency in adult education into a new arena that matches her personal passion: protecting animals during disasters. Her new business, Animals in Disaster, provides information and training to pet and livestock owners in how to best prepare to protect their animals in the event of an earthquake, fire, landslide or tsunami. 

With Animals in Disaster, Jo is now utilizing her ten years of training experience from FHCO- including trainings she developed on the value of assistance animals for people with disabilities-with twelve years of gaining knowledge from extensive training in emergency preparedness and disaster response.  Find out how you can sign up for a class at her website!

Jo’s passion for animals is deep.  She’s a dedicated “pet mom” for two cats and surrogate livestock handler for neighbors in rural Clackamas County.

Jo’s parting words: “I will always be an ardent supporter of fair housing. It has been an honor to work with FHCO, and I plan to continue to support the organization as an enthusiastic volunteer.”

We will miss Jo’s many abilities and creative mind, and we wish her success in her new venture!

Copyright © 2016 Fair Housing Council of Oregon, All rights reserved.

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