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Legislative task force works to reduce racial disparities in home ownership

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A legislative task force is examining ways to increase rates of home ownership among communities of color in Oregon.

A state task force that’s exploring ways to increase rates of home ownership among people of color in Oregon is inviting the public to weigh in on a series of proposals.

According to legislative research, the rate of home ownership for Black Oregonians is less than half the rate for white Oregonians. Other communities of color also have lower rates. Democratic Representative Ricki Ruiz co-chairs the task force. He says part of the problem is simply a lack of education about resources available to first-time homebuyers.

“There’s limited but effective opportunities to help people of color become homeowners for the first time," said Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham, who co-chairs the task force. "But we are now realizing that there has to be a further and bigger investment to help expand that opportunity for people of color and low income families, quite frankly, in the state of Oregon.”

And boosting home ownership rates is not just about saving up for a down payment, said Ruiz.

"One of the biggest things that we're trying to explore as a task force is, once a family buys their first home, how do we make sure they keep that home and aren't pushed out or foreclosed on because of lack of resources in a year, or five or ten years," he said.

The task force has a dozen proposals to increase access to home ownership. The panel is accepting public comment on its ideas through September 2.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”