The Fair Housing Council's (FHCO) Promise of Opportunity newsletter is produced periodically. Our goal is to keep housing consumers, housing providers, housing advocates, public officials, and the general public informed of developments at the FHCO and in all things related to fair housing.
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Summer 2014

Fair Housing Council of Oregon Update

As we head into summer, the staff of the Fair Housing Council is looking forward to new opportunities in the 2014 fiscal year. We closed out four major HUD grants in March and started two new ones. There were staff transitions as grant funding ended and people moved on. We are also working closely with state agencies, cities and counties to begin new grants with a range of educational and enforcement activities throughout the state.
Fair Housing Month in April featured a variety of events in different areas of the state including a Rental Rights Roundup in Medford, that included presentations and resource tables by community-based housing organizations; educational events at Southern Oregon University and Marylhurst University; a seminar for housing providers in Southern Oregon with national fair housing expert Nadine Green; an educational event at Duniway School in southeast Portland and a celebration at the Oregon Jewish Museum in Portland that featured musical performances and the debut of our new "Anywhere but Here" traveling display.

We are gearing up for the first of five circuit rides throughout the state, where we will be meeting with jurisdictions, housing providers, housing consumers and advocates to raise a awareness about fair housing rights and the responsibility of cities and counties to affirmatively further fair housing. Our first trip is to Eastern Oregon in mid-July. We will be visiting Ontario, Nyssa, La Grande and Pendleton. Besides meeting with city and county staff, we will be training housing authorities, rental owners associations, community action agencies and other social service providers. We will also be continuing our research on the history of discrimination, segregation and displacement in Eastern Oregon. Our next trips will be to Klamath, Lake, Dechutes, Jefferson Crook, Lincoln and Tillamook Counties.

Our outreach efforts have expanded to include a new partnership with the Mexican Consulate, and we have been at recent Consulate events in both Medford and The Dalles. We have also collaborated with with the Community Alliance of Tenants to assist with resource fairs in East Portland and with PCUN (Piñeros y Campesiños Unidos del Noroeste) to educate their members in the Woodburn area and develop a Spanish-language radio program in Salem.

Meanwhile, back in Portland... we have had an incredible level of interest in our historic bus tours, and have been working to accommodate as many organizations requesting tours as possible. Thanks to the efforts of Allan Lazo and Sally Leisure, we've expanded our capacity to provide more tours than in previous years. Thank you Allan and Sally!

Look for our new Fair Housing Public Service Announcements in movie theaters in the Portland Metropolitan area this summer!


Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers now included as Protected Class

Housing Choice Vouchers are now included in the definition of income for source of income discrimination under a new Oregon State Law. Landlord screening criteria applies to applicants with vouchers the same as all applicants, and the value of the Housing Choice Voucher must be taken into account when considering the applicant’s income. Starting this month, it is now illegal to refuse to rent to Section 8 voucher holders.  Landlords are free to use the same criteria used with all other applicants.

The Oregon Administrative Rules have just been signed to establish a State funded and administered Landlord Guaranty Program, which will be available to all landlords renting to a voucher holder.  Landlords participating in the program may make a claim on the guaranty fund:

  • Must obtain a judgment against tenant
  • Claims must be between $500 and $5,000
  • Any claim must be submitted to the State within one year of obtaining the judgment
  • Tenants will be required by the State of Oregon to repay the Guaranty Fund.
The new law also requires local housing authorities:
  • Ensure timely Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections;
  • Accept lease term options matching what is standard and customary for the dwelling unit involved; and,
  • Establish process for landlords to provide regular input.
The law also requires the establishment of a statewide advisory committee made up of local housing authorities, landlord advocates, and tenant advocates. Advisory committee members will be named in July.
There will be FAQs about this new protected class on the FHCO website this month. Look for them at


The Fair Housing Council has a new look with its new logo. Thanks to FHCO staffer Dustin Ellett for coming up with the vision.


Mexican Consulate Partnership

Elizabeth Gray, Intake Specialist, and Louise Dix, Education and Outreach Specialist, spent May 17 & 18 at the Mexican Consulate in Medford and June 27 at The Dalles. More than 200 people were exposed to fair housing at the Medford consulate event and approximately 80 at the one in The Dalles. This is a new partnership for FHCO helping us to do more effective outreach to distinct populations.


Fair Housing Month 2014

Fair Housing Month Reception

FHCO celebrated National Fair Housing Month at a special event April 10th at the Oregon Jewish Museum. The new historical display, Anywhere But Here, was unveiled at the event. Marilyn Keller and Company, featuring FHCO's John Gainer, and Portland Taiko performed. Stories from real life fair housing situations were shared. The story tellers in the photos below included Eddie Passadore, FHCO Board member, and Betty Dominguez, Home Forward.  Other story tellers included Jane Ferguson, community volunteer; Puanani Lalakey, Volunteers of America Homefree; and Michael Griggs, community volunteer.  FHCO Executive Director Pegge McGuire and Project Specialist Rebecca Wetherby are shown at the reception holding a card with the theme for this year's poster contest, Everyone is Welcome in My Neighborhood.

National Fair Housing Month Celebration

Betty Dominguez, Home Forward, Kim McCarty, Portland Housing Bureau, Andree'Tremoulet, Commonworks Consulting and Brenda Jose, Unlimited Choices share their fair housing expressions at the April Fair Housing Month Celebration.
Samantha Tan
2014 Poster Contest Winner

Samantha Tan, a third grader from Valley Catholic Elementary School in Beaverton, is seen here with her family, holding her winning poster. This year's theme was "Everyone is Welcome in My Neighborhood!"
There were 133 entries from across the state. Congratulations, Samantha!

Copies of the poster in English and in Spanish are available by contacting the Fair Housing Council at
Fair Housing Month at Duniway Elementary School

Duniway Elementary School in Portland celebrated Fair Housing Month with a special event on April 17. They hosted the new traveling exhbit, Anywhere But Here, and featured FHCO's Diane Hess.

Familial Status Discrimination Trending Upwards

by Lisa Bailey

Over the last couple of months, we have experienced an increase in calls regarding familial status discrimination and/or questions around policies adopted by complex owners, management companies, HOAs and private landlords. You may be surprised to know that only 26 years ago landlords were allowed to turn away homebuyers and renters because of the size and structure of their family; specifically if they had children under the age of 18 years old. Fortunately, these laws have changed. However, we still continue to hear about rules that may have a disparate impact on families with children. In light of these increased inquires, here are some guidelines for landlords and property managers to keep in mind when reviewing governing policies.

  • Rules should address behaviors, not the class of individuals carrying out the behaviors.
  • Enforcement of community rules should pertain to everyone, regardless of the age of the violator.
  • Occupancy guidelines should not be too restrictive.
  • Off limits areas for children are not okay unless they are off limits to everyone. Rules such as “no bicycles or tricycles anywhere in the complex” may be considered discriminatory even if the word “children” is not used.
  • Beware of arbitrary age restrictions, such as hours that children age 13-17 are allowed to use the pool or basketball court.
  • Restrictions should not speculate on the safety of a child, which is up to the parent or  guardian, not management.

When in doubt – Call FHCO’s hotline @ 503-223-8197 x 2 (for landlords x 150)

Ignoring Lead Issues Can Be Costly

by Jo Becker

The Environmental Protection Agency's Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule protects homeowners and tenants from dangerous lead dust that can be left behind after common repair work. It requires that contractors and subcontractors be properly trained and certified, and use lead safe work practices to ensure that lead dust is minimized. Lead exposure can cause a range of health effects, from behavior problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.

“Using lead-safe work practices is good business and it’s the law,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is taking action to enforce lead rules to protect people from exposure to lead and to ensure a level playing field for contractors that follow the rules.”

Recent enforcement actions across the country include 14 administrative settlements assessing civil penalties of up to $23,000. These settlements also required the contractors to certify that they had come into compliance with the requirements of the RRP rule.
The enforcement actions address serious violations of the RRP rule, including fourteen actions where the contractor failed to obtain certification prior to performing or offering to perform renovation activities on pre-1978 homes, where lead is more likely to be present. Other alleged violations included failure to follow the lead-safe work practices, which are critical to reducing exposure to lead-based paint hazards.

Additionally, EPA filed three administrative complaints seeking civil penalties of up to the statutory maximum of $37,500 per violation. As required by the Toxic Substances Control Act, a company or individual’s ability to pay a penalty is evaluated and penalties are adjusted accordingly.

You can read up on the settlements at
For more about lead and instructions on getting certified go to You can also find additional information, including required pamphlets and disclosure forms as well as additional lead articles at


New FHCO Historical Display

Regena Warren, Multnomah County Housing Development Specialist, is checking out the new history of discrimination display, which was unveiled at a special Fair Housing Celebration on April 10 at the Oregon Jewish Museum in Northwest Portland. The traveling exhibit, entitled Anywhere But Here, is available for use by jurisictions and organizations. Contact Rebecca Wetherby, Project Specialist, at for details.


Transitions (1)

April Kusters, Enforcement Coordinator,
is moving on to be the Assistant Director of Portland State University Student Legal Services. She will be supervising the law school interns and representing PSU students on various legal issues. "As for FHCO, I am happy to have helped the organization with the new and exciting frontier of affirmatively furthering fair housing. It has been wonderful working on the cutting edge of legal developments," she said. We wish April all the best in her new position at PSU!


Malia Bennett, Enforcement Coordinator, is back from maternity leave amd will be working part-time.
Aurora Noelle was born March 29.
Welcome back, Malia!


Nicole Edner has become the new Testing Coordinator for FHCO, moving on from her position as Grants Manager. Nicole has been with the agency for almost 10 years in a variety of different positions. She served as Grants Manager for the past year. Congratulations, Nicole!


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