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Meet Associate Professor Lisa Bates
Meet Associate Professor Lisa Bates

Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning 


Lisa Bates explains who lives where and why. 

PhD, 2006 Dept of City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
BA, 1999 Political Science, George Washington University



Housing policy, neighborhood revitalization planning, housing-related financial decisions by low-income and minority households, and the recovery of the housing market in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.   


  • USP 301 Theory and Philosophy of Community Development 
  • USP 567 Urban Housing Policy 
  • USP 510 Planning and the Housing market

A Housing Submarket Approach to Neighborhood Revitalization Planning: Theoretical Considerations and Empirical Justifications 



Phone: (503) 725-8203 
Office: Urban Center 370E

Lisa K. Bates is associate professor at the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning of Portland State University.  She does research related to housing policy and planning. Her work is particularly focused on social justice issues, including understanding how inequitable outcomes may arise from institutionalized racism in policy design and implementation. Her research also describes how people of color and low-income households make decisions about housing and neighborhoods, given their perceived choices and constraints. As a planner, Dr. Bates engages with space and place as important to the context of decision-making and policy-making, and has conducted research in diverse settings, including Chicago, post-Katrina New Orleans, and Portland.

In Portland, Dr. Bates has served as the co-lead for the Technical Advisory Group on Equity and Civic Engagement for the Portland Plan and on the Creation Committee for the Office of Equity and Human Rights, which address institutionalized racism in city government. She has participated in the Partnership for Racial Equity, a working group convened by the Urban League of Portland to create a Racial Equity Strategy Guide for public agencies. She was also a co-lead for the Housing and Communities committee of the Greater Portland Pulse, a regional indicators project.

Dr. Bates sits on the board of directors of the Portland Housing Center, which is one of the nation’s top homeownership education and counseling organizations. She is currently helping to evaluate the African-American oriented “Getting Your House in Order” course to assess the potential for culturally-specific financial literacy education to affect the racial homeownership and wealth gap. This work includes focus groups to gain insights into African-American attitudes, perceptions, and decisions about finances and homebuying and tracking customer outcomes as they move towards purchasing a home.

In the classroom, Dr. Bates helps students move towards making commitments by actively choosing a stance in the world, values, and how to express them through action. She believes this is particularly crucial in the fields of urban planning and community development. Her approach focuses on working with students to recognize implicit values and surface assumptions in defining “wicked problems,” to test their commitments through dialogue, and to work with difference and diversity.

Recent Projects

 “What is a ‘good neighborhood’?: Exploring the choices of low-income households in Portland” With Ellen M. Bassett. Funded by the West Coast Poverty Center

To better understand the residential location choices of poor households and how they relate to housing mobility policy definitions of “good neighborhoods,” the project team interviewed low-income households about the neighborhoods in which they live and how they define and experience neighborhood quality. The team found that location is not largely explained by lack of information or fear of new environments, and that poor households have complex strategies for accessing opportunity other than moving.

Equity Planning or Equitable Opportunities? The Construction of Equity in the HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants. with Marisa A. Zapata
This project examines the conceptualization and operationalization of “equity” and “equitable planning” in HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI). The team asks how equity is defined, and assesses the grant applications for the integration of equity into planning activities and for measurable outcomes for achieving equity. This analysis suggests that the equity-as-opportunity concept can lead to a weakening of equity outcome goals, as planners become responsible not for producing social justice changes, but for providing choices and environments. 

Housing Recovery in New Orleans: Assessing Vulnerability and Resilience using the American Housing Survey
Five years after Hurricane Katrina, housing recovery in New Orleans remained spotty--over one hundred forty thousand residents had not returned to the city and in some neighborhoods, physical reconstruction is very much incomplete, despite significant resources having been dedicated to recovery. The 2009 American Housing Survey special examination of post‐Katrina New Orleans data to ask: What are the critical factors influencing how long it took homeowners begin repair/construction and to reoccupy their completed homes? This research finds significant differences in the recovery trajectory based on race, pre-Katrina income, post-disaster temporary housing experiences, and reliance on the Road Home grant program rather than homeowners' insurance to rebuild. She argues that future policy design must take into account how social inequality affects recovery for homeowners in order to avoid the substantial differences in housing recovery time for different social groups.