How does the Equity Atlas illuminate disparities?
The original Regional Equity Atlas, published in 2007, highlighted the disparities in our region and provided insights into how we could create a more equitable region through targeted policies and investments. The Atlas mapped the distribution of different populations and communities across the region, with a focus on historically disenfranchised groups. Then it mapped access to key resources such as food, transportation, parks and nature, walkable neighborhoods, a healthy environment, affordable housing, and quality education. The comparisons between the resource maps and the demographic maps revealed pervasive disparities in historically disenfranchised populations’ access to the resources necessary for health and well-being.
Imagine a region where:
- All residents have access to opportunities such as good jobs, real transportation choices, safe and stable housing, a good education, a range of parks and natural areas, vibrant public spaces, and healthful, regionally produced foods.
- The benefits and burdens of growth and change are equitably shared across our communities.
- All residents and communities are involved as full and equal partners in public decision-making.
In a sustainable and equitable region all of these things would be true, yet we know that equity is not a reality for all of our communities. The Coalition for a Livable Future undertook the Regional Equity Atlas Project to advance equity—the right of every person to have access to opportunities necessary for satisfying essential needs and advancing their well-being—as a key component of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region's approach to development.
Why is it important?
The Portland region is widely recognized as a leader in sustainable development. Deserved as this reputation may be, it has a soft underbelly: like most places, the Portland region’s planning approach tends to focus on places or people, rather than striking a balance between the two. The consequence? Too often, “success” results in physical improvements—pretty buildings, great parks, new transit, places to gather and so forth—that some people can enjoy, while other people get left behind. In other words, questions of equality get ignored.
The Coalition for a Livable Future initiated the Regional Equity Atlas Project in response to its members’ assessment that equity and its relationship to sustainable development was not generally understood by the public and policymakers. Yet, all agreed that equity is a core component of sustainability and should be a prominent element of our regional approach to managing future growth and development.
Impact of the Original Equity Atlas
By illuminating the region’s geography of opportunity, the original Equity Atlas transformed local conversations around equity and provided concrete information to guide local advocacy and policy making. Since the Atlas’s publication in 2007, CLF and its partners have used the Equity Atlas findings to secure concrete changes in policy, planning, and investment decisions to promote greater regional equity.
The Equity Atlas findings have helped to inform the direction of local policy and planning discussions in a variety of ways. For example, the Atlas showed that many low-income neighborhoods have limited access to nature. Based on this finding, CLF and its partners advocated for the creation of a $15 million capital grants program to increase access to nature in these neighborhoods. The resulting Nature in the Neighborhoods Capital grant program has provided millions of dollars in grants so far, with a focus on low-income communities. One grant helped to transform a vacant lot next to Humboldt School in North Portland into a learning garden accessible to students and to residents of Humboldt Gardens, a low-income housing development across the street. Another grant funded the Virginia Garcia Health Center to turn the alleyway outside their Cornelius Wellness Center into a parkway accessible to patients and the community.Original Equity Atlas - Equity Action Agenda
Original Equity Atlas - Accomplishments
Original Equity Atlas - Newsroom