Readers' Letters
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Joel Zavalza, 12, leaps from a swing at the Wood Village Green, one of three mobile home parks in the community, where many Latino families have managed to buy their first homes. Wood Village tops Portland-area cities for diversity.

While I appreciate the coverage of Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI) and the racially biased housing market, the format of the front page greatly concerns me.

The negativity expressed in stories 'Blacks fall behind in home buying' and 'We're not going to let them fail' (Aug. 18) fuels racial stereotypes of failure, helplessness and 'otherness.'

I urge you to be more conscious of this in the future, to highlight strengths, resilience and modes of resistance rather than the shortcomings.

Annie Munson-Phelps

Southeast Portland

Buyers still buying homes

If an individual is not capable of ascertaining the amount of money available to them to purchase and pay for a house and is not capable of understanding the mortgage contract they are signing, they have no business making a six-figure investment (Blacks fall behind in home buying, Aug. 18).

This is high finance, Debra (Neal), not the game of 'but we're victims.'

'Experts blame high joblessness, unscrupulous mortgage lenders and gentrification of Portland's traditional black neighborhoods, which priced-out would-be homebuyers.'

None of that 'priced out would-be buyers.' Buyers are still buying, they're just mostly not black.

You say 'gentrification,' I say urban renewal - except gentrification in Portland has been better than tax-funded urban renewal, because it is a new breed of urban homesteader taking the lead and the risks, instead of and in spite of Portland's leaders, black and otherwise. And it is their private funds fueling this urban renewal, not tax dollars.

You say 'unscrupulous mortgage lender,' I say dumb buyer. Do you understand what a 'balloon payment' is? Do you know how long it takes to go 36 months until the balloon payment kicks in? Did someone hold a gun to your head and make you sign/ initial all 132 mortgage pages?

Keenya King and her husband 'Last year bought a 1,500-square-foot house in Gateway, in the Parkrose School District, for $166,000. They put up a third of the down payment and the rest was matched.'

Matched? Who matched one-third of the down payment with two-thirds of the down payment? Was it Keenya's favorite uncle, Uncle Clarence? No. It was OUR favorite uncle, Uncle Sam.

Why on earth is our government handing out our - as in yours and mine - tax payments to help people buy houses? Ever wonder why our federal government is over $14 trillion dollars in debt?

The (headline) to this article is 'Blacks fall behind in home buying' (Aug. 18), yet the article points out black-owned homes in Oregon, outside Portland, have increased by 1,300 homes, dwarfing Portland's loss of 500 black-owned homes.

Shouldn't the headline to this article really have been, 'Blacks, like other longtime Portlanders, are fleeing Portlandia?'

Tom Wenning

Southeast Portland

Government handouts spiral to failure

Supporting ineptness and the unwillingness to work hard to become employable and to manage your salary after that is what is causing any minority or majority to fail in owning a home (Blacks fall behind in home buying, Aug. 18).

Giving somebody something is a proven path to disaster in almost every case; a few of the gift recipients succeed, but the percentage has to be very small. So small, in fact, that this method of subsidizing those folks who aren't capable or willing to help themselves ought to be abolished immediately.

Welfare is only good to a point. After that, it is a downward spiral to failure.

And greedy lenders are only partly the cause for so many home 'owners' losing their homes; the feds have a great deal to do with this by passing laws that encourage lenders to give home loans to people who do not qualify in any way for ownership. The feds even guaranteed those loans. Lenders will not give loans to people who can't qualify if the feds don't guarantee those loans.

William S. Hamilton


City living puts kids at risk

After six kids were shot at Jefferson High School recently, you can bet that the suburbs will get whiter (Suburbs winning regional diversity race, Sept. 8).

Who would put their kids in a school where their lives could be endangered?

Dan Maher

Southeast Portland

Blacks see benefits of suburbs

Could it be that blacks are finding more benefits, better home values and better schools in the suburbs along with lower property taxes, just like white people have been doing for many years now (Blacks fall behind in home buying, Aug. 18)?

I also read recently that black homeowners are increasing in predominately white Lake Oswego. This looks like a positive development to me in that blacks are finding more choices and better values in areas outside of expensive Portland.

I know the shots fired ratio is much lower in the suburbs than the Portland eastside.

Ann Friday

Southwest Portland

Portland beats suburbs in diversity

I had to smile, although the smile was more of a grimace, at the headline saying Portland was losing some sort of metropolitan-area race to diversity (Suburbs winning regional diversity race, Sept. 8).

Who established this 'race' other than the Tribune reporter (Steve Law)? Is this really something to be 'raced' towards? People live where they want to live. It is no crime that white people want to live in the urban environment that is the People's Republic of Portland and therefore make it, apparently notoriously, the whitest urban area in America.

And to call Cornelius 50 percent 'white' (i.e. non-Hispanic European) and 50 percent (Latino), with a dusting of blacks and Asians as more 'diverse' than Portland - with significant populations of blacks, Asians and Latinos among the majority whites - is ridiculous.

Every day when I drive around my fair city (Portland), I, the prototypical dirty old man, marvel at the diversity of pulchritude we Portlanders have: white, Asian, African, Latino, Native American. Portland 'losing' a 'race' to 'diversity.' Please.

Could you put that reporter on something meaningful?

Brian A. Cobb

Northwest Portland

Work permits should benefit U.S. citizens

Ever wonder why we runneth over with 'diversity' (Suburbs winning regional diversity race, Sept. 8)?

The federal government gives out over a million foreign work permits per year despite our national unemployment, most of them for low-skilled workers.

These numbers are largely aside from illegal immigration.

Approximately 40 percent of the illegal alien population is comprised of those who overstay their permits and visas.

Daniel Roberts

Northeast Portland

Foster neighborhood needs attention

I live in the Foster-Powell neighborhood. The city spent money for an artist to build an arch over (Southeast) Foster at 50th out of bike frames some five-ish years ago (Portland budget map tilts to east, Aug. 25).

And Foster was to be made into a single lane road with a center left turn lane, and the two outer traffic lanes were to be turned into bike lanes, also some five years ago. And nothing has been done.

Then if you wanted a single stop sign to be placed at a corner that received a crash, like, every two to three months back in the 70s, the response from the city was, 'We can't do a thing until you have three fatalities in a calendar year,' - yes, I do not stutter, three deaths in a year - then they will look into placing a stop sign.

But lo and behold, a school bus 'transferred paint' with a car on the next corner and guess what - the following week the stop signs where put up.

So yes, from my 41 years in this neighborhood, we in Southeast Havana are treated like the redheaded stepchild that you need to tie a pork chop around our necks to get the dog to play with us - or should I say, tie a government welfare check around our necks to get the city to pay attention to us.

Clarence Leacel Smith

Southeast Portland

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