Portland, Oregon—The City of Portland’s model for rental housing inspections in outer Southeast Portland is more likely to improve health and health equity, and should be expanded to other Portland neighborhoods, a recently completed Health Impact Assessment (HIA) has found.
The assessment was conducted by Oregon Public Health Institute, in partnership with Metro Multifamily Housing Association, Rental Housing Association of Greater Portland, Portland Bureau of Development Services, Community Alliance of Tenants, Multnomah County Health Department, and the Portland Housing Bureau.
Health Impact Assessment is a tool for providing decision-makers with information about how their proposed policies, plans, and projects will likely impact the health of the communities they serve. This HIA examined the health impacts of the two inspections models that the city currently uses for rental housing inspections.
The assessment included a health and housing literature review and an analysis of the city’s inspections program tracking data. The HIA found that the enhanced model is more effective than the standard inspections model, and that the effectiveness of either model would be improved if paired with education for both tenants and property owners/managers.
Based on these and other findings, this HIA recommends that City Council work with the Bureau of Development Services to:
- Strategically apply the enhanced model to other Portland neighborhoods with higher rates of low-income households.
- Implement the tenant/landlord education strategies developed by the Quality Rental Housing Workgroup.
- Implement the Information Technology Advancement Project (ITAP) which is currently in the RFP response phase and is scheduled to be completed and implemented in 2 ½-3 years.
“This HIA shows that housing inspections not only preserve our housing stock and protect property owners' investments, but they keep our community healthy. The inspections program is a lifeline for families suffering from asthma, injuries, and mental health problems connected to substandard housing that some property owners are unwilling or unable to improve without city intervention”, said Mary Lou Hennrich, Oregon Public Health Institute’s Executive Director. “The responsibility to help these families is especially pressing because they are disproportionately our most vulnerable residents: children, the elderly, people of color, and those struggling to make ends meet.”
The project was funded by the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Health Impact Project, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation or The Pew Charitable Trusts.