A letter from PHB Director Shannon Callahan
Dear Portland –
Like many of you, we have watched the recent events in our country and our community with a heavy heart over the tragic loss of life and the deep wounds they have re-opened. To our neighbors, friends, family, partners, and colleagues in the Black community, we at the Housing Bureau see your pain, we mourn alongside you, and we stand with you.
If there is one thing the groundswell of solidarity for Black Lives stretching across the globe has made clear, it’s that we are in a catalytic moment in history that we cannot and must not turn back from. It is a moment that demands our immediate and – more importantly – sustained action.
We must start by calling things by their name. We at the Housing Bureau recognize the systemic, institutional, anti-Black racism behind the tragic and senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, and we condemn it unequivocally.
We must also acknowledge that the modern-day legacy of slavery is alive and well. This legacy is not limited to the acts violence against Black Americans we have seen in our streets; Black (and Indigenous) people remain at the bottom of every measure of opportunity and well-being across our society – from median income to median wealth, rates of homeownership, educational attainment, health outcomes, life expectancy, and so on.
We, at the Housing Bureau, are confirming and strengthening our commitment to support Black, Indigenous, Latinx and People of Color in our funding, our contracting, and our policies.
This moment calls on all of us to look inward. As a government agency, we have a particular responsibility to confront this legacy in our policies and practices, and distribution of resources. We need to examine with humility and urgency the part we play in perpetuating racist systems that harm historically marginalized communities. Perhaps more than ever, we are in a moment now when our complacency is complicity.