May 18th, 2011 | by BRENT WALTH News | Posted In: City Hall, Housing, Activism

Fish Identifies Apartment Owners Named in Discrimination Audit

Nick Fish
Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish has released the names of the owners and managers of 26 apartment buildings where a recent audit found evidence of housing discrimination.

The documents list the properties where the Fair Housing Council of Oregon audit found evidence of discrimination based on race or national origin. One document (PDF) lists specific incidents discovered by investigators, and a narrative (PDF) offers details about what investigators found during their review last year.

The Portland Housing Bureau, which Fish oversees, sent letters to owners and managers Tuesday to let them know their properties turned up in the audit. The bureau plans to turn the information over to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which investigates allegations of housing discrimination through its civil rights division.

The Fair Housing Council of Oregon, a non-profit group dedicated to ending housing discrimination, was hired by the city to send testers—white, African-American and Latino—to apartments to see if they were treated differently or given different information.

One of the properties is owned by Human Solutions, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that helps to find housing for the homeless and poor. The records show the property Arbor Glen at 2609 SE 145th Ave.

Jean DeMaster, Human Solutions’ executive director, said she does not know if the incident took place but said her organization will look into it. The documents say a non-white investigator in June 2010 was asked more questions about his or her ability to pay for the apartment, and was not encouraged to apply.

“We will look into it and take action,” DeMaster said. “That is not acceptable to us.”

(Portland's Housing Bureau originally identified the manager of Arbor Glen as Guardian Management, which WW reported. City officials now say Guardian is not the management company and says it regrets the error.)

Another large management company that was sent a letter from the city was Bluestone & Hockley, which manages about 1,500 rental units. The documents say an agent for Hillsdale Commons, 1308 SW Cheltenham St., cited lower move-in costs to a white tester.

Elena Tangman-Wells, executive vice president at Bluestone & Hockley, said her company doesn’t have firsthand information about what the audit found, but she said if it happened, it’s unacceptable.

“In no way, shape or form do we tolerate any discrimination,” she said.
 
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