and families represent the future of the city and
must be supported and nurtured.
Portland is an attractive city for raising children
because of the slower pace and small town feel. The
city accommodates families with sustainable practices,
public transportation, bike and pedestrian options
for commutes, neighborhoods with local businesses,
public spaces and parks. People appreciate the many
activities and places that are child and family friendly.
One common concern is whether future generations of
families will be able to live here, given the under-funded
schools and lack of affordable housing. Portlanders
imagine a city where the norm is affordable housing,
flourishing neighborhood schools, and where all children
and families have health coverage and are well fed.
This chapter contains content and themes that are
very similar to those mentioned in Urban
Livability: Family-Friendly. A reading of both
sections will provide a more complete picture of people’s
thoughts on the benefits and challenges of raising
families in Portland.
Many people view Portland as a family-friendly city.
People want to see the basic rights of all children
and families fulfilled.
- More resources, programs
and community support are needed specifically for
- Many families are leaving
Portland because of rising costs and other key livability
- Unsafe environments
deter some families from moving to or remaining
in some neighborhoods.
- How does Portland remain
family-friendly in the face of growth?
people view Portland as a family-friendly
- People appreciate the many aspects of
Portland that make it a convenient and attractive
place for families raising children, including:
- Child-friendly artistic and cultural
- Activities and venues that cater to
- The slower pace of life & smallness
of the city;
- Portland’s emphasis on sustainability
and on keeping a clean and healthy environment;
- Public transportation;
- Neighborhoods with small businesses,
parks, and the ability to bike/walk
to work; and
- Safe public and open spaces.
- People value that youth are educated
about their food sources and have access
to healthy foods, for instance, through
like that it's a great place to raise
children. It's safe for kids. It's a
family friendly city, yet a bit cosmopolitan
at the same time.”
value the] opportunities for family
friendly education and recreation.”
is very family friendly—a totally unique
trait to any other 'international city.'
This is a fundamental reason why many
families, even young, working professionals
without children choose Portland. There
is still hope of good housing and a
promising future for raising a family
in a balanced urban environment. This
is why many families who have been in
Portland continue to stay here, if they
can still afford it...”
want to see the basic rights of all children
and families fulfilled.
- Portlanders feel that all children and
families have basic rights which the community
must strive to meet. These include:
- Quality food;
- Safety; and
- Quality education.
- Health: People want to see health coverage
for all families, and particularly for all
children. Many feel that health and wellness
benefits should not be dependent on whether
or not one has insurance.
- Food: The community also needs to reduce
and prevent hunger before it becomes an
even greater problem.
- Childcare: Some respondents think that
childcare should be free or at least available
to everyone, no matter their income level.
- Safety: Young people, families and elders
want to feel safe in their neighborhoods—free
from violence, gang activity and drug trade,
People are also extremely concerned with
the fact that there are homeless youth and
families with no viable place to sleep.
- Education: A vast number of respondents
expressed deep concern over the under-funded
public school system, believing that the
community’s youth will end up under-educated.
They would like to see:
- All schools become first-rate;
- Inequities between neighborhood schools
- More after-school programs for youth;
- Education in the arts, music, theater
and outdoor programs reintegrated into
the curriculum; and
- Teaching that emphasizes civic involvement
and an understanding of the government.
- Transit: Everyone deserves access
to transit. There should be free transportation
options for people struggling to make
meet their other basic needs.
the future] we are a community that
supports children and families at all
stages of life.”
2030, Portland] is a city where every
child in every public school has an
opportunity for a first rate education;
an education that is not only focused
on excellence in English, math and science,
but which emphasizes civic involvement,
an understanding of how government works
(or doesn’t), and which offers opportunities
to every child for a rich education
in the arts. The educational opportunities
will include pre-K through post secondary,
and will be well connected to business
and government in terms of ensuring
that the necessary knowledge and skills
are being taught to connect students
with rewarding job opportunities.”
Education, Education. I think our youth
are getting the short end of the stick
all the time. They have a shorter school
year and many students are going to
failing schools where the teachers are
over worked and under paid. There is
also no equity in the education students
from poor colored neighborhoods are
getting compared to students in rich
white neighborhoods. We have to start
thinking out of the box in regards to
how to deal with educating our next
resources, programs and community support
are needed specifically for youth.
- The city needs more constructive activities
for young people and young adults to allow
them to be contributing members of the community,
to be safe, and to develop skills. These
- More mentoring programs (including
more roles for elders mentoring kids);
- More community centers for youth;
- More social services for youth that
are affordable and youth-centered;
- A greater number of affordable after
- More jobs for young people;
- Vocational training programs for transition
- More funding and infrastructure planning
for young people with special needs,
such as accessible playgrounds, and
support staff in schools; and
- Increased youth engagement in the
planning and political processes.
youth voice, I would like to see youth
speak loud and proud."
need more money to keep youth programs
going. Things are extremely tight; programs
are going away...We need people in leadership
who know how to “think outside the box”,
especially our school officials. Our
schools are consistently deteriorating;
it must end somewhere or you will lose
families to Vancouver, WA.”
would like to see Portland become more
kid-friendly. There are some activities
for youth to do but not very many are
accessible for low-income families for
reasons of cost or transportation and/or
that the activities are not quality
for each age group.”
- Youth-centered service programs
should include models such as peer-to-peer
learning, youth leadership development,
and more opportunities for youth to influence
- “Make this the epicenter for families
and education for children...Create the
best, smaller scale learning environments...Not
only the school environment but what will
business and city do to help parents take
the time needed with children, such as parental
leave for newborns, affordable daycare (look
families are leaving Portland because of
rising costs and other key livability issues.
- Many respondents express their concern
that Portland is losing families with children,
particularly families struggling with poverty.
- Factors pushing families out of Portland
- The rising costs of housing and the
lack of affordable housing;
- The deteriorating quality of the public
- A lack of living-wage family jobs;
- Safety concerns in neighborhoods (see
Safety: Neighborhood Safety);
- In order to make Portland more affordable
and accommodating to families, people would
like to see the following:
- Affordable or free childcare and preschool
- After school activities that are more
affordable to all young people; and
- Many more living-wage family jobs.
- Respondents would like to see special
attention focused on improving quality of
life options for the following groups:
- Ethnic minorities;
- Youth, particularly those that are
- Young people with disabilities.
concentration on high rise apartment/condo
buildings and more on family housing
and parks. It seems we are forcing families
out for the city. I would hate for the
downtown to be unaffordable and livable
would like to see] childcare assistance
to unemployed individuals searching
for work—remove barriers.”
got to make this a city where families
want to live. This doesn’t happen by
legislating wages, but rather by creating
an environment where businesses want
to expand here. If there are good jobs,
the families will follow.”
- More businesses and agencies
should support working mothers.
- The City needs to significantly expand
access to affordable housing.
environments deter some families from moving
to or remaining in some neighborhoods.
- Some parents feel they have to limit their
children’s activities because of neighborhood
- In particular, parents of minority children
are afraid that their children will be harassed
by police, or that they will encounter needles
in parks or other unsafe situations in their
- Families of color are being pushed out
of livable, close-in neighborhoods near
the central city, often into areas in East
Portland that are experiencing rising crime
rates and are generally less livable.
For more on neighborhood safety concerns,
Safety: Neighborhood Safety.
2030] All neighborhoods are safe and
affordable for many family types and
income levels, and diverse family types
feel at home and welcomed…”
got to tackle safety and security of
Portland. In many parts of the city
it is no longer a desirable place to
raise a family. I grew up in NE Portland
and now fear for my security when returning
to the area I grew up in. Families have
been flocking to the suburbs for several
decades now, but we fail to see it…”
2030] We are all walking safely on the
streets, with a deep background feeling
of family…that we are all in this together
and that we belong. People’s basic needs
are met—including housing, food, and
healthcare. Children have diverse options
for learning—outdoor programs, arts/theatre/music,
as well as many different methods of
address diverse learning styles…”
does Portland remain family-friendly in the face
All Portlanders seem to value the idea of a family-friendly
city, where families are able to thrive and make
the most of community resources while raising children.
The tension lies within the degree to which families
are able to access such resources and partake of
the qualities that raise Portland up to be the model
city it is today. Given the population growth expected
for Portland's near future, the question remains
how it will attract families and nurture existing
families to remain in the city.
One group of respondents speaks of the breadth
of amenities that serve families in Portland.
They seem to have very few complaints and, to
the contrary, find Portland particularly unique
in its family-oriented opportunities like the
many parks, recreational activities and quality,
organic foods. The one major concern is the deterioration
of public schools.
Another group's descriptions of the city, as
it relates to youth and families, are in some
ways in direct conflict with the first group,
although the concern for schools seems to be fairly
unanimous. The tension centers on the socioeconomic
circumstances that force many families to make
difficult choices. These choices primarily revolve
around cost of housing, when housing prices are
rising in neighborhoods across Portland, and whether
it is possible to remain living in Portland.