Building household stability and prosperity in diverse communities across Oregon is at the heart of our mission, programs and actions. We believe that access to resources and opportunity is the means to an economically vibrant and just society. We embrace diversity among all peoples, and believe in creating environments and spaces where every person is welcomed, respected and valued. We acknowledge historical and contemporary injustices and will work towards reversing them and preventing their future occurrences. We believe in the targeted investment of resources and services in proportion to the need in communities, particularly those that have been harmed by racism in our society’s laws, policies, institutions and culture.
During the 20th century, various public policies systematically excluded Black and other households of color from equal access to homeownership, thriving neighborhoods and economic opportunities. Racialized zoning, racially restrictive deeds, and the demolition of Black neighborhoods as part of urban renewal all significantly contributed to racial inequities that carry forward into the present. Disparate access to credit, including predatory lending practices, have further undermined economic mobility for many community members. These inequities are evident today in the form of continued racial segregation, staggering racial gaps in homeownership and wealth, and greater levels of exposure for people of color to unsafe homes and unstable housing. With the knowledge that these injustices have never been adequately addressed, we commit to facing this work head-on.
In order to secure housing justice for all, Habitat for Humanity of Oregon will continue to reflect, learn and work to promote positive transformation. With courage, compassion, humility and accountability as our guiding values, we commit to building power and opportunities for all people in need of stable, healthy and affordable homes.
- We commit to transparency, mutual responsibility and accountability for our actions and impacts, as we pursue housing justice and equitable opportunities to build assets.
- We commit to authentic partnership, sharing power and resources to advocate for targeted programs and investments to reach our collective goals.
- We commit to growing an organizational culture that explores, embraces and celebrates diversity; and sparks curiosity, respect and appreciation as we move through differences.
- We commit to centering equity in order to dismantle white privilege: the visible and invisible barriers to opportunity and self-expression throughout our network.
- We commit to creating inclusive spaces to build community where everyone is visible and experiences a sense of belonging.
- We commit to courage, compassion, humility and accountability as the cornerstones of the important, challenging — and ultimately joyful — work of building the beloved community envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Recent Actions in Support of Our Equity Commitment
- Habitat Oregon formed the Homeowner Advisory Council to help inform advocacy priorities and program design. Members include representative homeowners from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and areas of the state. All members are compensated for their time and contributions at an hourly rate.
- Last year, Habitat Oregon launched HEAL: the Habitat Equity Academy for Leaders. This DEI learning cohort has been supported by consultants Katharine Quince and Veronica Bañuelos. Each month, local Habitat affiliate leaders and two members of the Habitat Oregon team met for three hours to take a deep dive into our nation’s housing history, lived realities in the United States and strategies for local DEI mobilization. This first-of-its-kind engagement wrapped up with a two-day capstone event in October of 2022.
- Habitat Oregon worked in 2020-21 with DEI consultants Velynn Brown and Katharine Quince to review our organization’s strengths and opportunities for growth and improvement. This collective work with our Board and staff teams resulted in the generation of Habitat Oregon’s DEI Roadmap. During each quarterly Board meeting, the full staff and Board check in on progress toward our shared goals.
- One identified area for growth is attracting and retaining highly qualified, racially and ethnically diverse staff members. We’re pleased to report that two of our three most recent staff hires brought us closer to this goal. The percent of Habitat Oregon Board members who identify as belonging to communities of color is 46 percent — a benchmark we’ve maintained since 2019.
- Habitat Oregon is preparing to host the 2023 Western Region Conference. We’re thrilled to share that Heather McGhee, author of “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” will serve as our keynote speaker. The conference theme is Unlocking the Future: Building with Courage and Compassion. Learning opportunities will focus on expanding our capacity to build and sell homes, while centering social justice impacts.
- Habitat Oregon remains committed to promoting social justice through our ongoing advocacy initiatives. Recent examples include our support for the Equity Investment Act passed by the Oregon legislature in 2022 with an initial $15 million investment. Other examples include our ongoing strong support for key housing and IDA (matched savings) investments, equitable land use legislation and renters’ protections and stabilization.
- Our staff team actively promotes and pursues a DEI and active anti-racism learning culture. Every member of the staff team is encouraged to share learning and social engagement opportunities. We also set aside monthly opportunities to dive more deeply together into targeted opportunities for learning and growth.