The visionPDX Input Report



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Equity and social justice are of top concern to Portlanders.

Section Summary

In this section, Portlanders share their views on social issues ranging from poverty and hunger to structural forms of oppression. Portlanders view the social problems herein as threatening to the entire community’s quality of life. One of the most often mentioned desires in the community surveys was wanting the issue of homelessness solved, a complex problem viewed as overlapping with many others. Community members are also concerned with low-income individuals and families. They understand that people who are already struggling to make ends meet are directly impacted when funding for schools is cut, jobs are limited, affordable housing options are slim and it is too difficult to start or maintain a business in one’s own neighborhood.

 In addition, respondents want to see more understanding and acceptance of people from marginalized groups.  Many respondents voice their hopes for overcoming racism, classism and other forms of oppression as a way to ensure equal access to essentials like housing, food and education.  In turn, all Portlanders should be aware of their rights and well informed about local resources and services.  

Portlanders express their appreciation for opportunities that involve the community in decision-making. They desire more diversity in political leadership, elected officials that better represent community interests and values-based public policies rooted in the common good.  They envision a future where integrated, well-served neighborhoods and communities learn from each other and work together with leaders that are attuned to their interests. 

Summary of Main Ideas

  1. Major social issues are linked with basic needs and rights not being met for everyone.
  2. Overcoming inequities is important to Portlanders.
  3. Social issues affect individuals and communities differently, requiring specific approaches to change.


  1. Major social issues are linked with basic needs and rights not being met for everyone.
  • Respondents define social issues in a couple of different ways:
    • Some view Portland’s social issues as systemic problems that prevent equity and quality of life for everyone. Examples include forms of discrimination and oppression such as racism, classism, sexism and segregation.
    • Others speak of social issues in terms of that which undermines individual and community health and well-being.
  • Many Portlanders are concerned with social issues ranging from homelessness and poverty to gentrification, gang activity and police treatment.
  • Lack of lack of access to basic needs, services and opportunities can create or perpetuate broad social issues.
    • Basic needs are not being met for some Portlanders in the areas of living-wage jobs, quality education, healthcare, decision-making, safety, food and housing.
  • Portlanders believe social issues should be addressed and that prevention of certain social issues requires complex solutions.
"[In 2030] All homeless people are in transitional programs or have transitioned out of them into affordable housing close-in, in safe neighborhoods where they are a part of a community that supports their transition and continued self-reliance.”

  1. Overcoming inequities is important to Portlanders.
  • Many respondents appreciate the public’s general awareness of and interest in social issues.
  • Some people believe Portland is already a safe, accepting and open-minded city for people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Many believe that Portland has not yet come to terms with how to include and make welcome diverse newcomers or existing residents of color.
  • Respondents value making social equity visible and the many opportunities for action on social justice issues.
  • Some people view Portlanders' "progressive" or "liberal" tendency as contributing to social justice.
  • Ways of addressing social issues should include not only social services, but also political activism, advocacy, leadership development and community organizing.
“[I value] the community of people dedicated to social change…”

“Equal opportunity in the City of Portland is critical...”

“It is clear that Portland values its people and that its people value Portland.”

  1. Social issues affect individuals and communities differently, requiring culturally-specific approaches to change.
  • Many respondents believe that social problems affect Portlanders and their identified communities in very different ways.
  • Particular attention should be granted to all minority groups, not only racial or ethnic groups, that are most often up against a number of social issues and inequities.
  • Approaches to addressing social issues should include culturally-specific means of engagement for service providers, schools, employers and government.
“Change the way police target poor people and people of color. Stop treating us so bad.”