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Middle Housing: Promoting equity and inclusivity


Oregon’s land use regulations have a long history of discrimination. Mid-1800s territorial laws and the state constitution prohibited people of color. Laws banning, limiting or revoking residency or land rights of non-whites affected native, Black, Chinese and Japanese people and others of color well into the 20th Century.

Over time, zoning, deeds and covenants continued limiting where non-whites could live - not only in Oregon but throughout the country. The 1960s Civil Rights Movement spurred change through the Federal Fair Housing Act. But old land use practices still affect many people’s housing options today.

Washington County is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse counties in Oregon. The Washington County Board of Commissioners adopted an equity resolution in February 2020 that commits to dismantling long-standing systems, programs, policies and practices that historically created obstacles to the success of people of color, members of ethnic communities and other marginalized groups. 

Watch the following:

Segregated by Design
Segregated by Design (~18 mins)
By Richard Rothstein, author of 
The Color of Law 


Zoning Matters
Zoning Matters: How Land Use Policies
Shape Our Lives
(~3 mins)
From the Urban Institute 

The Board-approved guiding principles for HB 2001 implementation work puts community needs, collaboration and equity at the center of this project to expand middle housing options. Like other local governments, we will propose code changes in the spirit of equity.
As a part of that effort, we are using the term “single-detached home” rather than “single-family.” While HB 2001 uses “single-family,” the term isn’t inclusive. It leaves out other household types and can lead to unrelated people or extended families facing discrimination. We will not use occupant-specific language to describe housing types.

What do you think?

Housing affects all of us. Our middle housing plan is focused on equity, diversity and inclusion. Please consider taking part in this process. We want to hear from people of all ages, incomes, abilities, races, ethnicities, orientations, household sizes and personal or professional housing experiences and needs. We want to hear from you.

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