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The Oregonian: In downtown Portland, report examines state of Latino community in Multnomah County
Author: Anne Saker, The Oregonian
Posted: January 26, 2012

Read the original story in The Oregonian here

A report from Portland State University and the Coalition of Communities of Color delivers grim news about Latinos living in Multnomah County: They are poorer, their jobless rate is higher, and the teen birth rate is six times that for whites. 

Yet Latinos also are narrowing the school achievement gap with whites, and Latino children are benefiting from the expansion of the Oregon Health Plan, the report says. 

PSU and coalition officials released the report, "The Latino Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Portrait," at a Wednesday evening reception at Smith Memorial Student Union. 

The report is the third in a series that PSU and the coalition are producing to examine the conditions of minority populations in the county. A November report outlined economic and social inequities faced by Native Americans in Multnomah County, the ninth largest urban Native population in the United States. 

Ann Curry-Stevens,  assistant professor in PSU's School of Social Work, wrote the report about the Latino community. The dimensions of its problems "were surprising, revealing how urgent it is that concrete policy reforms gain priority in the region." 

Coalition member Carmen Rubio,  executive director of the Latino Network, urged policymakers to read the report "and make firm commitments to progress for Latinos across the region." 

Researchers counted 80,138 Latinos living in the county, nearly 11 percent of the total population and the largest community of color. But many of them live in poverty: The family poverty rate is 153 percent higher than that of white families. Per-capita income of $14,627 is $18,000 less that of whites; Latino seniors live on $8,676 a year. 

Latinos hold 5.5 cents for every dollar whites hold, the report said. 

Census data from 2009, the most recent available, shows the Latino unemployment rate approached 15 percent, while white joblessness was at 6.1 percent. 

Nearly 44 percent of Latinos have not completed high school, compared with 6.3 percent of whites. And the number of Latino high school graduates going on to college has slid from 60 percent in 2001 to 55 percent in 2005. 

Latina teenagers give birth at six times the rate of whites, and Latinas are twice as likely as whites not to get prenatal care. 

Latinos also have a homicide rate more than double that of whites. 

To remedy those and other problems, the report recommends that governments take better counts of the Latino population to have the best information to make decisions. 

The report also says governments should establish firm timelines to reducing disparities for Latinos, expand funding for "culturally specific services" and emphasize poverty-reduction efforts.