What Landlords Don’t Know About Lead

What Landlords Don’t Know About Lead

Following is a guest post by Jo Becker, Education/Outreach Specialist for the Fair Housing Council of Oregon.

Lead poisoning is of greatest concern with respect to children. This you do know…

We did a very informal survey and found that of the over 500 landlords asked, 73% owned or managed pre-1978 properties (over 9700 individual units, in fact) and almost all (91%) knew that young children are at the greatest risk of lead poisoning. That’s good news; this key message from the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been received. 

However, we also found:

  • ·         …that 25% still don’t know that HUD and EPA have required lead disclosure in all units built prior to 1978 (including use of a specific brochure on the subject) prior to contract since 1996 (see boxed insert below).
  • ·         … that 41% are still not aware that HUD / EPA have also required disclosure (with use of a different brochure) prior to many repairs or renovations made to pre-78 properties since 2008.
  • ·         …that 50% didn’t know HUD / EPA has required that many repairs or renovations be done by a certified lead-safe contractor since 2010.
  • ·         … that 37% still don’t know it has been illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act [1] to deny housing to an applicant simply because there are children in the household (even in pre-1978 properties) since 1988.

enforcementSuffice it to say the requirements above are real federal regulations housing providers are held liable for knowing and following. And, as recent cases demonstrate, the penalties for non-compliance can be significant.

Learn more about lead disclosure and certification requirements and information about familial status protections go to the FHCO website.

The survey was informative in a few more ways:

Brochures1.  We found there’s confusion surrounding the two different HUD / EPA pamphlets referenced above.  About 1/3 knew of those surveyed knew there were two different brochures; about 1/3 did not realize this; about 1/3 were unsure.  To further confuse the matter, the newer “Renovate Right” pamphlet has been revised [4]. To help clarify the issue, we have provided images of each here.

2.  We learned that over half (52%) didn’t know where to find the pamphlets and their accompanying disclosure forms online.  To be sure you can access these free resources we have included the URL for each here[5]:

Pre-contract Pamphlet:  “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home

Pre-contract Disclosure Form for Rentals

Pre-contract Disclosure Form for Sales

Pre-repair Pamphlet: “Renovate Right

Note that the original “Renovate Right” brochure shows the outside of a house with a front lawn; the predominant color is green with “March 2008” printed on its green back cover.  The revised “Renovate Right” brochure shows an interior shot of a home; the predominant color is pink with “Revised September 2011” printed on its tan back cover. 

The Pre-repair Disclosure Form can be found inside the pre-repair pamplet “Renovate Right.”

3.    Based on survey results, it would appear the majority of landlords are outsourcing required repairs and renovations.  To help you find local professionals trained to assist you we’ve provided the URL for the EPA’s Certified Renovation Firm search tool:

Find Certified Renovation Firms

In addition, if you’re interested in becoming lead-safe certified yourself, use the EPA’s Accredited Renovation Training Programs search tool to find a class near you.

Find Accredited Renovation Training Programs. You can also call the Lead Line at (503) 988-4000 (a free service).

4.  Lastly, our survey told us that over half (64%) didn’t know that a Portland-based nonprofit offers free “living lead safe” workshops, yet 83% indicated they planned to learn more about lead, reduce lead hazards, educate residents about lead, and / or inquire about a lead workshop.  To help facilitate these good intentions, please allow us to introduce you to Community Energy Project (CEP)!

“Living Lead Safe” Workshops:

CEP can be reached at (503) 284-6827 or lead101@communityenergyproject.org.  As a former REALTOR®, I can tell you their “Living Lead Safe” workshop would make an excellent office presentation or a wonderful seminar a sales agent could set up for his/her clientele or even a special offering a property manager could host for residents.  It takes about an hour and I can tell you it is mind blowing! 

Do You Know Why?

If we can extrapolate from the informal survey we conducted, most of you know that children are at the greatest risk of lead poisoning but do you know why that is or why it’s of particular concern in housing?

First of all, while there are other possible sources of lead poisoning, lead hazards are most commonly found in older homes. Lead poisoning can occur by drinking water contaminated with lead, swallowing chips of lead paint, or ingesting lead-based paint dust from remodeling or refinishing projects. 

Lead paint was banned in 1978; however, the housing stock remains and so does the old paint [6]. The National Safety Council reports, 2/3 of homes built before 1940 and 1/2 of homes built between 1940 and 1960 contain lead-based paint. While few homes built after 1960 contain lead paint, consumer advocacy requirements apply to all residences built prior to 1978.

As for why lead affects babies and small children so profoundly it is because lead poisoning causes anemia, digestive problems, and damage to the central nervous system in still-developing bodies. Children exposed to lead can develop brain damage including a variety of learning and behavioral disabilities [7].

The risk to children is compounded by the fact that they (pets too) are often on the floor where lead dust too fine to see can settle and be inadvertently ingested. In addition, children (and pets) have been known on occasion to chew on woodwork within their reach, particularly when they’re teething. Even if you are careful, small children (and pets) can still accidentally ingest paint by chewing on toys that collect tiny paint dust particles.

If you have lead paint on your property and would like it removed, contact a professional. This is not required of a housing provider but if it’s something you’re considering be sure you outsource the work; it is safer to pay a professional to do the removal than to try to do it yourself.

This article brought to you by the Fair Housing Council; a nonprofit serving the state of Oregon and SW Washington.  Learn more and / or sign up for our free, periodic newsletter on the FHCO website.

[1]   Federally protected classes under the Fair Housing Act include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (children), and disability. Oregon law also protects marital status, source of income, sexual orientation, and domestic violence survivors. Washington law covers martial status, sexual orientation, and domestic violence survivors, and honorably discharged veterans/military status. Additional protected classes have been added in particular geographic areas; visit http://www.FHCO.org/mission.htm and read the section entitled “View Local Protected Classes” for more information.


[3] http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/Public-Affairs/press_releases/Press12/

[4] Visit http://www.FHCO.org/pdfs/published%20articles/read_on%20articles/LeadChanges.pdf to learn about the changes and your requirement to use the revised version.

[5] Note that HUD / EPA offer some of these in alternative languages as well.  Visit the HUD and EPA websites to find a comprehensive list.

[6] As long as the lead paint is sealed (painted over) and not chipping or cracking it should pose little health risks.  However, special attention should be given to “friction points” where two painted surfaces rub such as windows and doors.

[7] Symptoms of lead poisoning, according to the National Institute of Health Sciences, include headaches, muscle and joint weakness or pain, excessive tiredness or lethargy, behavioral problems or irritability, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, metallic taste in the mouth, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, and constipation. These symptoms are shared by many other illnesses. However, in cases where the symptoms occur for an extended period of time and no other cause has been found, lead poisoning should be considered.

Fair Housing is Not All Black and White

Following is an article by Nadeen Green, an attorney who has spoken on fair housing topics to residential rental audiences across the country since the Fair Housing Amendments Act’s inception in 1989. 

Here at the Fair Housing Council (FHCO) we make ourselves available to those who feel their fair housing rights have been violated, as well as to those with fair housing questions, including housing providers! If you have a question about your rights or responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws, please visit us at FHCO online or call our free Hotline at 800/424-3247 Ext. 2.

How can iguanas, “hellos,” and food stamps put you at risk?

You have likely been to fair housing programs or have read articles that dealt with the important topics of race, color, disability, children, national origin, sex, and religion.  (And if that is not the case and you have any role or job in the housing industry, then stop reading this article now—not an easy statement for any author to make—and find a class on fair housing basics pronto.)

But these topics, albeit extremely important, are not the only ones out there. Through state laws and local ordinances, as well as through court cases, the civil rights of the Fair Housing Act continue to expand or are clarified. So here are some things that you may not know about. Even if there is just one topic below that is helpful to you, your reading of this article has been worth it.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my! You know a service animal is not a pet and that you must make reasonable accommodations for people who have a service animal (this usually relates to your pet policies). And while it is highly unlikely that lions, tigers, or bears will be the service animals brought to your community, keep in mind that not all service animals are dogs and cats. And those that are dogs may be providing assistance you never even thought of. From cases or in the news, service animals that take us beyond the guide dog for the blind, or the cat for depression, include

          o Dogs assisting their humans who are diabetic (sensing changes in blood sugar levels);

          o Dogs providing a calming effect for children with FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome);

          o Miniature horses (as guide animals for the blind); this author has had two students in class that had guide horses at their communities;

          o An iguana assisting with depression.

Everyone poops! (Which, by the way, is the title of a children’s book by Taro Gomi that celebrates a very natural process.) Lions, tigers, bears, dogs, cats, horses, and iguanas all poop. But when you reasonably accommodate a person with disabilities and their service animal poops, do you have to clean it up for them? Can you require that the person does this (or arranges to have it done)? The answer to this query is found in the Federal Register, Vol. 73, No. 208, Monday, October 27, 2008 at page 63836. You, however, don’t have to look it up because this author will now quote from that as follows: “…a housing provider may establish reasonable rules in lease provisions requiring a person with a disability to pick up and dispose of his or her assistance animal’s waste.”  Now, before we leave this intriguing topic, may I suggest to you Service Dog Central as a website resource to help you keep current on service dog issues.

Pet lovers protected too? Well, not yet. But there has been discussion in San Francisco (let’s refrain from making any comment whatsoever about California) to consider a prohibition of housing discrimination against responsible pet owners. That bears watching.

Merhaba.  If your community participates in the Project Based Section 8 program or if you receive HOME or CDBG funds, you are supposed to be compliant with HUD’s Limited English Proficiency (LEP) guidelines. If you are not familiar with these, then wisdom would dictate you find out more about this and proceed accordingly. <You can read up on the subject at www.FHCO.org/lep.htm.> Those of you at conventional communities have no FHA duty to those with LEP. But just because you don’t have to do anything in this regard, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Why? Prospects, applicants and residents for whom you facilitate based on language challenges are happy. Why do you care? Happy people don’t sue you (or at least not as often as unhappy people, although for purposes of disclosure, let me point out that this has not been statistically established; i.e., I made it up). But to avoid some of the issues related to national origin (the usual basis for LEP) and to show your openness to folks from other places (great for mitigation in a worst case scenario, i.e., a fair housing lawsuit or charge), think about what you can do to make it easier for people with LEP. Ideas might include a work order board (residents point to a picture where they have a problem – a toilet, a sink, a door) or work order requests with visuals (think Clip Art) to check. By the way, merhaba means “hello” in Turkish.

Boy Meets Girl. (Or Boy Meets Boy, or Girl Meets Boy, or Girl Meets Girl) No matter the combination, such a scenario can lead to charges of sexual harassment. Why is this a fair housing topic? Because the victims of sexual harassment are chosen based on their gender, and gender is protected under the FHA. Many of the issues arise with maintenance personnel (who may be perpetrators or, as is often the case, victims of sexual harassment). Keeping in mind the vulnerability of your residents and your employees, there are questions you need to ask and decisions you need to make. Should your employees be allowed to date residents? Should your employees be allowed to socialize with residents? And while the topic here is sexual harassment, dating and socializing can lead to other fair housing issues if they lead to disparate treatment in the rental environment (such as the upset African American resident who feels that the maintenance man responds more promptly to her neighbor whom he is dating and who is white). Know the risks of such dating and socializing, know your tolerance for risk, and create your policies accordingly.

MyFace and SpaceBook. You may chuckle when you hear less-than-savvy folks talk about social media, but you may not know as much as you think you do when it comes to social media marketing and fair housing. Social media marketing is a form of advertising and there are fair housing considerations. There are numerous and detailed articles out there about this, but here are a few things for you to consider:

          o Use the EHO logo: this is advertising!

          o Watch what you say: the same words that were taboo in print and online are still taboo in social media.

          o Watch who says it: diversity of spokespersons should be your goal.

          o Watch who you show: white-only advertising has been a sin since 1968; the days of Barbie® and Ken are long over.

          o Weigh your control of your social media site: more control can mean more fair housing liability.

Food Stamps. Should food stamps be counted toward income for rent qualification? The answer is “maybe.” If your community is located in an area that has a source of income protection <this is the case across Oregon>, there is the possibility that food stamps would be considered income. Would this be necessary as a reasonable accommodation if the recipient is getting food stamps based on disability? And finally, the philosophical question of “why not” count them? 

Fair housing laws will continue to expand and will often be interpreted very broadly to protect the civil rights of those who live with you or wish to do so. You owe it to them and to yourself to always be aware of and in compliance with those laws that assure equal housing opportunity.

At the Fair Housing Council we offer detailed information about federal and state protected classes linked from the entry page of our site at www.FHCO.org.  To check for local protections in the area you live, work, or own property visit www.FHCO.org/pdfs/matrix_ore.pdf or www.FHCO.org/pdfs/matrix_wash.pdf.  And, as always, if you have fair housing questions, visit our site or call our free Hotline at 800/424-3247 Ext. 2.

This article brought to you by the Fair Housing Council; a nonprofit serving the state of Oregon and SW Washington.  Learn more and / or sign up for our free, periodic newsletter at FHCO.org. “Fair Housing Focus” is written by Nadeen Green, Senior Counsel with For Rent Media Solutions™.  The information contained in this article is not to be considered legal advice, and the author and For Rent Media Solutions strongly suggest that you consult with your own counsel as to any fair housing questions or problems you may have.

Qs about your rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws?

Visit www.FHCO.org or call 1-800-424-3247 Ext. 2.

Qs about this article?  Want to schedule an in-office fair housing training program or speaker for corporate or association functions?

Contact Diane Hess, Education Director at dhess@FHCO.org or 800/424-3247 Ext. 108

Children: A Protected Class But Also At Greatest Risk for Lead Poisoning


What Can You Do?
What Can’t You Do?
How Do You Comply with All the Laws?

By Jo Becker, Education/Outreach Specialist, Fair Housing Council of Oregon

While anyone can be poisoned by lead, children under the age of six are particularly vulnerable.  Children are at risk both because they are more likely to ingest lead in housing situations and because lead can adversely affect children’s brains, central nervous system, and other organs and systems that are still developing.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 1 out of every 25 children has unsafe levels of lead in their blood. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry the number is much higher—roughly 1 in every 6!

Studies have shown that inhalation of lead dust particles in the air due to friction caused by opening and closing lead-based painted surfaces such as doors and windows can be just as hazardous as the ingestion of lead paint particles.  Once poisoned, most of the resulting health effects are not curable.  To make the situation all the more insidious and difficult, you may unknowingly have lead in your building because it cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled.

Some sources state that lead-based paint hazards found in the home are, in fact, the single largest environmental hazards facing our nation’s children.  The magnitude of the problem and the importance of the issue have raised questions concerning lead-based paint and the requirements of the Fair Housing Act[1] to not discriminate against families with children.

It is illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) to deny housing to families with children (or otherwise treat them differently in any way) unless the housing provider is exempt as a “designated senior community” (for information on familial status protections and the housing for older persons exception visit www.FHCO.org/families.htm).  Case law has reinforced the fact that housing providers cannot discourage potential residents with children simply because the property has or may have “hazards” such as steep stairways and balconies, busy streets, and the presence of dangerous equipment or lead-based paint.  It is up to the household to determine if a given property is appropriate for their children; it is not up to a housing provider to determine this for them.

Housing providers with units built prior to 1978 must advise all potential residents (with or without children) that the unit may contain lead-based paint (see section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992), but may not refuse housing (or treat a household differently) based on the presence of children.

Below is an excerpt from a 1997 memo from HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity department clarifying the interaction between federal lead-based requirements and the FHA.

Question: May a housing provider affirmatively market units where lead-based paint hazards have been controlled to families with children?

Answer: Yes. Affirmatively marketing units where lead-based paint hazards have been controlled to families with children is consistent with fair housing laws and with the need to protect the public welfare. A housing provider may verbally or through advertisements advise the public or potential applicants for housing that such units are available, or that families with children are welcomed for such units. In addition, a housing provider may recommend a unit where lead-based paint hazards have been controlled to families with children under the age of six, or inform the family of the availability of a waiting list for units where lead-based paint hazards have been controlled.

Question: May a housing provider exclude families with children from units where lead-based paint hazards have not been controlled?

Answer: If a unit which has not undergone lead hazard control treatments is available and the family chooses to live in the unit, the housing provider must advise the family of the condition of the unit1, but may not decline to allow the family to occupy the unit because the family has children. Similarly, it would violate the Fair Housing Act for a housing provider to seek to terminate the tenancy of a family residing in a unit where lead-based paint hazards have not been controlled against the family’s wishes because of the presence of minor children in the household. The housing provider may offer transfers, with or without incentives, to a family residing in a unit where lead-based paint hazards have not been controlled to enable the family to move to a unit where lead-based paint hazards have been controlled, including for the purpose of addressing hazards in the family’s current unit.

Question: If resources allow lead-based paint hazards in only a few units to be controlled at a time, may these units be reserved for families with young children?

Answer: Housing providers may hold open vacant units where lead–based paint hazards have been controlled for families with young children and may offer such families a preference. However, as noted above, if units where lead-based paint hazards have not been controlled are available, a housing provider cannot refuse to allow a family with young children to live in such units. A housing provider must provide a family with young children information about the hazards of lead poisoning. If only a few units where lead-based paint hazards have been controlled are available at any given time, we recommend that such units be scattered throughout a site rather than segregated in one area.

Question: May housing providers give priority to addressing lead–based paint hazards in units occupied by families with small children?

Answer: Yes. As noted above, however, families cannot be required to vacate units in order to address lead-based paint hazards.  (Families can of course be required to temporarily relocate to another dwelling unit so that the lead hazard control work may be done safely.) Nothing in this memo affects the separate obligation of a housing provider to make reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities.


1Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Redaction Act of 1992 (42 U.S.C. 4852d).

Whether you are (or represent) a landlord, a seller, or a homeowners association, you need to be familiar with the nexus between lead-paint and FHA requirements.  You can learn more about the later at www.FHCO.org or call our Fair Housing Hotline at 800/424-3247 Ext 2.

You should also know that the federal government requires housing providers to disclose that there may be lead hazards in homes built before 1978 prior to contract and prior to many repairs and renovations. Federal law also requires those doing work on pre-1978 housing be certified to do so and to follow specific work practices.  You must, by law, hire a contractor who is lead-safe certified—or become certified yourself—if doing work on a home you do not occupy.  To you’re your lead questions answered and learn more about these requirements visit www.FHCO.org/lead.htm or contact the LeadLine at 503/988-4000 (a free service).

You should also check out the Portland-based Community Energy Project’s (CEP) “Living Lead Safe” program (503/284-6827).  The CEP class would make an excellent office or community meeting presentation or even a wonderful offering an agent could set up for his / her clientele.  It takes about an hour and, as a former Realtor® myself, I can tell you it is mind blowing!


This article brought to you by the Fair Housing Council; a nonprofit serving the state of Oregon and SW Washington.  Learn more and / or sign up for our free, periodic newsletter at www.FHCO.org.

Qs about your rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws?

Visit www.FHCO.org or call 1-800-424-3247 Ext. 2.

Qs about this article?  Want to schedule an in-office fair housing training program or speaker for corporate or association functions?

Contact Sandy Stienecker, Education / Outreach Specialist at sstienecker@FHCO.org or 503/23-8197 Ext. 109


[1]   Federally protected classes under the Fair Housing Act include:  race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (children), and disability.  Oregon law also protects marital status, source of income, sexual orientation, and domestic violence survivors.  Washington law covers martial status, sexual orientation, and domestic violence survivors, and honorably discharged veterans / military status. Additional protected classes have been added in particular geographic areas; visit FHCO.org/mission.htm and read the section entitled “View Local Protected Classes” for more information.

Gentrification and Fair Housing: A Local Story

Gentrification and Fair Housing:  A Local Story

By Jo Becker, Education/Outreach Specialist, Fair Housing Council
Serving Oregon and SW Washington

In 2008, FHCO launched a tour of Portland’s hidden history of discrimination.  The 2.5-hour coach bus trip explores a multitude of the Northwest’s “equity skeletons” hiding in our communal closet, some of which pre-date the Fair Housing Act (FHA)1.  Others are recent enough you may remember hearing of in the news.

On the tour we address inequities and injustices aimed at each protected class but this article will focus mainly on the protected classes of race, color, and national origin.  Within that context a lot of different incidents and policies targeted toward a broad spectrum of ethnicities is reviewed.  Among them is the public policy of urban renewal – oft referred to as “urban removal” – that has been perpetrated against a variety of groups over many decades, most notably African Americans.  The devastating consequences – whether intentional or accidental – of urban renewal are not only a national trend but also a local story.  It is a story that continues to affect us in terms of public policies and current neighborhood demographics to this day.

I recently reread an August 09, 2011 article in The Skanner by Lisa Loving2.  The article does an excellent job of detailing the gentrification3 Portlanders experienced in the 1950s and 1960s.

The article first sets the stage by illustrating how vibrant and productive the Albina community was in the mid-50s.  Due to accepted steering and redlining practices, Albina had become an openly segregated Black community.  In fact, in 1950 more than half of Oregon’s African American population (about 11,000) lived in two census tracts in Albina. They were concentrated into a single square mile east of the river in an area that had a density six times greater than the city as a whole.  The remaining African Americans, about 2,000, were scattered in other areas around the state.

The Skanner article goes on to describe how, in three consecutive waves spanning 15-20 years, city officials developed and passed plans to bulldoze a community located in what was becoming vital land within the city center as Portland grew.  The first incident demolished over 450 homes and businesses to make way for the Memorial Coliseum in 1956.  The same year Portland secured federal funding to, as Lisa Loving says, “pave Interstates 5 and 99 right through hundreds of homes and storefronts, destroying more than 1,100 housing units in South Albina.”  Then, in ’66 Portland applied for federal funds to expand Emanuel Hospital.  This proposed project would flatten still more homes and businesses in the same area.

At this point Albina residents picketed, but to no avail.  Demolition began in the late ‘60s in order to make way for the Emanuel expansion; and was soon finished.  In a cruel twist of fate, the federal dollars counted on dried up within a few years and construction on the hospital expansion never came to pass.  If you drive the streets of Albina today, the expansive open lots that still surround the Hospital are a result of this failed development effort.  Precisely on those plots were some of the homes and businesses that were ruthlessly expelled 50 years ago.

You might wonder if this was a blighted community wrought with problems, making it a target for government-sanctioned improvements.  Here’s what Lisa Loving has to say about it in the section of her article subtitled “Cause and Effect:”

Contrary to popular belief, ghetto neighborhoods are not a chance occurrence, nor are they the natural evolution of “old housing stock” that hasn’t been properly maintained by its owners.

In her ground-breaking study, “Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000,” Portland State Urban Studies Adjunct Professor Karen J. Gibson detailed how municipal development policies, coupled with racism in the real estate and banking industries, left Portland’s Black community segregated, ghettoized and, finally, scattered.

In cities across the nation, urban power brokers, with the help of the federal government, eagerly engaged in central-city revitalization after World War II.  …“The whole transition has been racial,” Gibson told The Skanner News this week. “People paid taxes in Albina – what did they get for their taxes?  …The whole thing has to do with race, and it has to do with real estate.  White privilege means something – it means a difference in wealth and the fact that you could just come in and take over the boulevard,” Gibson said.

Neither the residents nor the business owners were given time to prepare nor were they reasonably compensated.  The housing stock was not replaced, nor much improved, and former residents were not provided assistance in relocating…  Again, quoting The Skanner article:

<When the plans for> …tearing down Albina homes and businesses for Emanuel’s expansion in 1971 <was rolled out>, many local residents did not realize the plans had been laid years before, according to “History of Portland’s African American Community.”

The Emanuel Displaced Person’s Association was founded by Mrs. Leo Warren in 1970 after locals “were abruptly confronted with the expansion plans.” The city required residents to move out within 90 days, offering homeowners a maximum $15,000 payment and renters a maximum $4,000.

A much-hyped agreement signed by the hospital, the <Portland Development Commission> and the Housing Authority of Portland mandated they would use “maximum energy and enthusiasm” in replacing the lost housing… none of which happened.”

Mrs. Warren’s response:  “Didn’t they have a long-range plan? After all, if your life’s investment was smashed to splinters by a bulldozer to make room for a hospital, you could at least feel decent and perhaps tolerable about it; but to have it all done for nothing?”

The sad thing (among a number of one sad things) about this story is that it is only one example.  The same thing was happening in communities all across the country – always disproportionately impacting “relatively powerless residents in central cities, whether in immigrant White ethnic, Black, or skid row neighborhoods,” as PSU professor, Karen Gibson put it.

Another sad reality is that these government initiatives, along side legalized discrimination, and following in the wake of Oregon’s prominent Ku Klux Klan movement (reportedly the largest Klan west of the Rockies in the 1920s) has resulted in a lack of ethnic diversity and a history of segregated neighborhoods that continues to this day.  In terms of segregated neighborhoods, think of Alberta prior to market-based gentrification; think of SE Portland and Gresham today, to name just three examples.  As for our relative lack of diversity, many are surprised to learn that despite the Northwest’s reputation for being progressive, liberal, and welcoming, it’s no accident that Oregon’s history has produced among the smallest African American populations in the entire country.  According to data from the US Census Bureau, we rank 37th with a 2% Black population when the nation as a whole averages 12%.  Washington state ranks only slightly better with 3.7%.  One might think that with our proximity to the Pacific Ocean we would have high percentages of Asians and other immigrants.  Again looking at data from the Census Bureau, the United States is made up of, on average, 22% non-Caucasians.  Oregon is 12% non-Caucasian; Washington is 18%.  In fact, Oregon ranks lower than the national average for each ethic group counted in the Census with the exception of indigenous populations native to America, Alaska, Hawaii and other Pacific islands.  All of this helps explain why we, at the Fair Housing Council, continue to see ethnicity-based housing discrimination as the second largest area of complaints we deal with.

To expand on this historical perspective, I encourage you to check out The Skanner article2 to learn more about this part of Oregon’s history.  I would also recommend reading about the discriminatory experiences of Dr. DeNorval Unthank, a noted African-American civil rights leader in Portland.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Dr. Unthank’s all too typical story the Oregon Historical Society’s site details it at http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/historical_records/dspDocument.cfm?doc_ID=b69f9218-1c23-b9d3-68aaccca8b57606b.  Another, and comprehensive, read on current inequity in neighborhoods and the housing market borne out of longstanding policies and prejudice can be found in The Oregonian’s summer 2012 series entitled “Locked Out” by Brad Schmidt (http://projects.oregonlive.com/housing).

As Winston Churchill once wrote, “The further back you look, the further forward you can see.”  Bringing history full circle to the present helps us see how our past colors our present and can influence our future.

Please consider joining us on one of our “Fasten Your Seat Belt: It’s Been A Bumpy Ride” bus tours.  Many of the individuals who have participated in our tours have shared their opinions that the tour helps provide a visual connection to Portland’s history.  Visit www.FHCO.org/tours.htm for pricing and other details.


This article brought to you by the Fair Housing Council; a nonprofit serving the state of Oregon and SW Washington.  Learn more and / or sign up for our free, periodic newsletter at www.FHCO.org.

Qs about your rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws?

Visit www.FHCO.org or call 1-800-424-3247 Ext. 2.

Qs about this article?  Want to schedule an in-office fair housing training program or speaker for corporate or association functions?

Contact Sandy Stienecker, Education / Outreach Specialist at sstienecker@FHCO.org or 503/23-8197 Ext. 109

[1] Federally protected classes under the Fair Housing Act include:  race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (children), and disability.  Oregon law also protects marital status, source of income, sexual orientation, and domestic violence survivors.  Washington law covers martial status, sexual orientation, and domestic violence survivors, and honorably discharged veterans / military status. Additional protected classes have been added in particular geographic areas; visit FHCO.org/mission.htm and read the section entitled “View Local Protected Classes” for more information.
2 “Portland Gentrification:  The North Williams Avenue That Was – 1956;” http://theskanner.com/article/Portland-Gentrification-The-North-Williams-Avenue-That-Was–1956-2011-08-09
3http://dictionary.reference.com defines gentrification as the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.  Lisa Loving quotes Portland State University (PSU) professor, Karen Gibson (author of “Bleeding Albina:  A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000) in The Skanner article, “Luxury apartments, convention centers, sports arenas, hospitals, universities, and freeways were the land uses that reclaimed space occupied by relatively powerless residents in central cities, whether in immigrant White ethnic, Black, or skid row neighborhoods.”

Do You Use Video in Your Business?

There are many ways to use video in your business. This article, reprinted with permission from the REALTOR®Mag, has some pointers on getting started with video.

Let’s Get Reel  | By Stefanie Hahn

With millions of people watching online videos every month, it’s time for real estate professionals to consider how they’re adapting this resource in their marketing plans. Here are some tips for getting started.

As a society, we are consuming video like mad. A look at the current YouTube statistics shows that as of September 2012, more than 800 million people come to YouTube each month and watch more than 4 billion hours of video. Last year, traffic from mobile devices tripled. Now wrap your head around this: 500 years worth of YouTube videos are watched on Facebook every day and more than 700 videos are shared on Twitter every minute.

More importantly, people are interacting with video content — YouTube reports that 100 million people take a social action on YouTube (likes, shares, comments, etc.) every week.

Don’t think your clients have caught on to the profound impact of video? In April 2011, Mashable released an infographic by Postling stating that, “73 percent of home owners are more likely to list with a REALTOR® offering to do video.”

Based on these statistics, there’s never been a more compelling time to add video to your marketing plan. Here are a few tips to get you started.


You probably have multiple devices that can shoot decent video these days — smartphone, digital camera, and tablets, for example. Try your digital camera with a tripod first, as it helps avoid the “shaking” effect of the picture and give you a smoother plane upon which to move your shots. Tripods are cheap, but they can make a big difference in the quality of your video. Always carry extra batteries and/or a battery charger just in case you run out of juice.


Here are a few quick tips for capturing video:

1.      Turn on every available light if you are shooting inside. Also, avoid shooting for a length of time toward a window or anything that will reflect.

2.      Write a script, even if you think you don’t need one. Scripts will keep you on track and give a bit of confidence. For added security, create a full-blown storyboard with each video shot and the words that should be spoken over top.

3.      Speak louder and slower than normal. Don’t emphasize your words to the point of silliness, but enough so you are easily understood.

4.      Keep it short. If you don’t capture the viewer in the first 10 seconds, you will lose them. Limit your video to less than two minutes whenever possible.

5.      Practice. When you make a mistake, laugh at yourself. Then, try it again.


Sure, you could parrot your listing description and film the house room-by-room, but I would encourage you to be bolder than that. Try something different. Instead, ask your sellers two questions:

1. What attracted you to this neighborhood?

2. What will you miss most when you move?

Really, any variations of those two questions will work. If your sellers do not wish to be on video but are willing answer the questions, you might be able to record their answers in a voiceover while filming their favorite part of the house or what they love about the neighborhood. Your goal should always be to make the buyer feel something and (hopefully) get attached to the property.

If you don’t have a listing to shoot video in, don’t use that as an excuse. Start building a video channel with a variety of content that can help you market your services to potential clients.

Here are more content ideas to consider:

1.      Vendor tips: Get your favorite loan officer in front of the camera to explain mortgage terms, the application process, and what’s happening in the market. Do this with your insurance rep, title people, and home warranty reps. Keep the videos consumer-focused, helpful, and short.

2.      Market statistics: Answer that famous question, “How is the market?” Get local and you can attack one area within your market each week with statistics and analysis from your MLS reports.

3.      Community information: Show off the communities where you work (or wish you worked). Ask shop owners to wave hello and maybe even grab a “man on the street” interview with a local.

4.      Testimonials: A video testimonial is a powerful public endorsement of your work — these videos are your best self-marketing pieces.

5.      Profile: If you have somehow managed to keep your face out of all the other videos so far, this is the one to showcase you and how you work. Try to keep your video focused on what you will do for the consumer.


There are many options when it comes to editing your video. Consider trying the editing tools on YouTube.com if you are planning to upload there already. For beginner video editing, I would go with iMovie (Apple) or Windows Movie Maker (Windows).


You can use the same search-engine optimization (SEO) principles that you employ on your Web site to your videos. Know your keywords beforehand and use them in your video title, description, and tags.

The title of your video should be descriptive yet short. And don’t jam it up with keywords — use the video description to tell the world what they are about to watch. Each video should be “tagged” with your name, the word “video,” and relevant keywords. Don’t over-tag your videos and always use your name (or team name) as the first tag. This will help with your “related video results” down the line.


Once you have a video or two ready, you will need to set up a channel. Think of your video channel as your own little station packed with the content you upload. You can share videos from here and/or get embed code for your Web site or blog. YouTube is the giant in this space, but don’t rule out other viable options like Vimeo or Flickr. Do some research and determine which option is best for you. Here are a few more promotional tips:

1.      Set up your video channel with all of your real estate and contact information. Remember to link the channel back to your Web site and use your keywords wherever they make sense.

2.      Add a title, description, and tags to uploaded videos. If your video is listing-specific, upload it with your listing anywhere you are able to add a video.

3.      Share your video with the listing, use the built-in social shares, and embed the video on your Web site or blog.


Remember: You can do this! Video is easier than ever to record, edit, and upload. The investment on your part is mostly time. Like anything else, you have to be consistent to see real results, but video will give you a marketing piece that lives online and works in your favor long after you’ve uploaded. It’s time to get reel.

Stefanie Hahn is the education director for Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS® in Collegeville, Pa. Visit her Web site: www.StefanieHahn.com.

Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online (http://realtormag.realtor.org), September 2012, with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

Content Generation Strategies for Small Businesses

Written by Ekaterina Walter, Social Media Strategist at Intel

While large corporations have locked on to the power of content to generate leads and exposure, small businesses are still struggling to understand why and how content can help their business succeed. Many owner-operators produce their own content, and if you’re not an experienced writer or videographer, you may find yourself floundering.

In a recent Inbound Now podcast, Ricardo Bueno of Diverse Solutions explains his content generation strategy for small businesses. “You need to create content that not only engages with your audience, but shows them you know what you’re talking about—that you’re the local expert.”

Ricardo specializes in niche blogging and lead generation for businesses based in a specific location. He works with real estate agents, restaurants, consultants and retail spaces to put in place content generation strategies any small business owner can follow.

Content as Customer Education
Ricardo advises clients to make two lists. “On the first list, write everything you know about your industry. So if you’re a real estate agent, brainstorm everything you know about real estate—from how to price your home for sale to all that technical jargon.” These ideas provide the basis for blogs, articles, videos and social media updates that inform and educate your audience.

Lisa Horn, Founder and Chief Content Officer of Why Content Matters, stresses the importance of creating content that helps people. “When blogging, resist the temptation to sell. While blogs are useful marketing tools, they shouldn’t be filled with marketing copy. That’s a huge turnoff for readers. Instead, posts should be informative, educational, even inspirational. And again, they must be written with what your audience needs to know, not what you want to say or sell.”

Lisa suggests profiles of case histories that demonstrate how your company solves customer problems. This is a great way for readers to understand the application of your products and services—and is much more persuasive than any marketing copy.

Personal Content to Engage, Entertain and Build Community
On the second list, Ricardo suggests business owners write down some of their hobbies and interests—the things that you’re passionate about. “You don’t just want to be a press release—you want to share things you might have in common with your readers.”

“For example, a real estate agent in the Vancouver area created a unique idea—for 365 days he shared something different to do in his local area. Instead of sell sell sell, he videoed himself giving café reviews and went to local events and blogged about them. At Christmas time he drove down one of the streets and pointed out the unique Christmas lights on display. He was selling the community before he sold the houses. By the end of that year he had tens of thousands of followers.”

Ricardo’s real estate agent is a great example of a content strategy that’s highly engaging without getting too personal. “You’ve got to create a balance between personal and professional content. Before you begin writing content, ask yourself ‘what sorts of things am I willing to write about? What do I not want to write about? To what extent do I want to divulge my personal life?'”

You have to maintain some of that professional posture, and since anything you say on the Internet will remain there forever, it’s good business practice to ensure you’re not alienating or offending potential leads.

Content generation isn’t something you can just dive into without a plan. You need to devise a strategy that not only gives customers and clients valuable information, but engages them on a personal level. By using your own interests and experiences as the basis for content, you build likeability and trust with you audience. And in business, that trust is vital for success.

Do you have a content strategy in place for your business?

Reprinted with permission from Ekaterina Walter
Photo credit: Mr. Moss