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Latinos lag far behind whites, says a report by PSU and Coalition of Communities of Color
Author: John Kirkland
Posted: January 24, 2012

January 24, 2012 – Latinos in Multnomah County experience markedly lower levels of income and educational attainment than whites, and in several areas, lower levels than their Latino counterparts in other parts of the United States, according to a new research report from the Coalition of Communities of Color and Portland State University (PSU).

WHAT:  Release of the report “The Latino Community in Multnomah County: an Unsettling Profile” along with a policy agenda for Latino progress by the Oregon Latino Agenda for Action (OLAA)
ATTENDING: Governor John Kitzhaber, Portland Commissioner Nick Fish, and representatives from the Coalition of Communities of Color, PSU, and OLAA
WHEN:  Wednesday, Jan. 25, 5:30 p.m. Formal comments to begin at 6 p.m.
WHERE: Room 338 of PSU’s Smith Memorial Student Union, 1875 S.W. Broadway

The 101-page report is the result of a three-year research partnership between PSU’s School of Social Work and the Coalition of Communities of Color, whose membership includes a diverse alliance of culturally specific organizations in Multnomah County. It is the third in a seven-part series. The first, published in May 2010, was a broad portrait of racial disparity in Multnomah County, and the second in November 2011 focused on Native Americans.

Among the findings:

•    Forty-four percent of the adult Latino population in Multnomah County has not completed high school, compared with only 6 percent for whites. That level has stayed consistent over the past several years, and the report predicts it is not likely to improve any time soon.
•    Latino homeownership levels are significantly lower locally compared to the nation as a whole: 31 percent of Latinos in Multnomah County own their own homes, while nearly 50 percent of Latinos nationally own their own homes. Sixty percent of whites in Multnomah County own their own homes.
•    Latino per capita income in Multnomah county is less than half that of whites. “While one might expect (or hope) for the gap to be narrowing over time, it is not. In fact, the gap between the incomes of whites and Latinos is growing and parity is further out of reach than it was a generation ago,” the report states.
•    Household earnings among Latinos have deteriorated since 1989 while those of whites have remained constant.
•    The 2010 census showed that 80,138 Latinos lived in Multnomah County, a nearly 336 percent increase over the 1990 census figures. Latinos make up 10.9 percent of the total population in Multnomah County.
“The depth and breadth of these inequities were surprising, revealing how urgent it is that concrete policy reforms gain priority in the region,” said Ann Curry-Stevens, the report’s author and an assistant professor in PSU’s School of Social Work. Coalition member Carmen Rubio, the executive director of the Latino Network, added “it is imperative that our leading policy bodies read this report and make firm commitments to progress for Latinos across the region.”

The Wednesday event will feature the release of the OLAA, which calls for:
•    Greater engagement and involvement of Latino parents in school
•    Fortified investments for Latino entrepreneurs
•    More substantive investments in public health and prevention education
•    Immediate measures to ensure that undocumented residents can access drivers’ licenses

Consuelo Saragoza, OLAA’s co-chair and senior advisor to the Multnomah County Health Department, said “Our priorities were set through a historic statewide summit in 2010. Latino professionals were attracted by the opportunity to discuss issues and are now ready to get to work on policy reforms.” The OLAA policy priorities are expected to inform an advocacy agenda for the coming years.

Copies of the report will be available at the Wednesday event.  It also is available online at

About Portland State University (PSU)
Located in Portland, Oregon, PSU has about 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. PSU’s motto is “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” and we provide every student with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects. Our downtown campus exhibits PSU’s commitment to sustainability, and sustainability is incorporated into much of the curriculum.