City still has to work out details for Office of Equity

City still has to work out details for Office of Equity »Play Video
Portland City Council.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The city's Office of Equity will not duplicate its Office of Human Relations because both will be folded together and expanded.

But as far as any other details about the office, the city still doesn't have a clear idea what it will do or how it will do it.

"We will have to put together a strategy," said Mayor Sam Adams Wednesday.

"It’s going to address the known inequities that we have," said City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Adams has the idea that he and Fritz will run the office to find out why income gaps between rich and poor, black and white are growing.

"We’re becoming a less equal city, and we don’t know why, so we need to dig into that," Adams said.

The City Council has signed off on a nearly $3.6 billion budget for the next fiscal year and in it more than half a million dollars to create the Office of Equity. The city will spend $100,000 launching the office but must prove it deserves the rest of its half-million-dollar budget before getting the money.

"This is a very data-driven initiative," said Fritz. "It’s looking at the problem and seeking to create measurable changes and measurable improvements all over the city."

The mayor said they haven’t yet figured out how to measure whether the office is a success.

"We haven’t established the baseline for how to decide why, and again, moving forward, how do you define success?" Adams said. "That hasn’t been done. This is really basic stuff."

For Preston Reid and John Hunt, both of whom are black and dream of establishing successful businesses on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, it's still unclear how they'll benefit from the newly-created Office of Equity.

They suggested the city invest more in education and in local entrepreneurs.

Reid's "Jeanopoly" clothing shop is set to open next week and Hunt hopes to open a car wash in the neighborhood he calls home.

"It's kind of funny how you see all these different businesses, but they’re not owned by people that stay around here," Hunt said.

"I'm just trying to be part of the solution. I don't know exactly what the problem is, but I want to be part of the solution," Reid said.

Adams and Fritz said they hope to have goals for the office established within six months.