Dear Friends and Neighbors,
July marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services. Disability Rights activists worked for decades towards the passage of this bill. The ADA has changed the way people with disabilities live in the last 30 years, but disability is still often overlooked in discussions on civil rights and equity. The intersections of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and class affect a disabled person’s ability to access healthcare, housing, employment and support. As we continue to work towards a more equitable and just world, it’s important to recognize disability can be both visible and invisible, that disabled people enrich our communities, and that it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure disabled people are included.
Another way we can help ensure that all people are included in issues that affect them is by being counted. Read on to learn more about why participating in the census is so important for our communities. Also, learn about the role auditors can play in supporting racial justice.
2020 Census: Everyone Counts
Why is the census important? Each person identified in the census yields approximately $3,200 per person in federal funding each year. Accurate census data ensures residents of Multnomah County get a fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal programs. Oregon’s population projections suggest that the 2020 Census will identify 450,000 more people living here, which would make Oregon eligible for an additional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The census also impacts county voting districts. As your Auditor, it's my responsibility to reapportion Multnomah County districts after the census. An accurate census count helps ensure that each Commission district is equally sized, supporting each person’s ability to receive equal representation.
Many communities have historically been overlooked in the census. These communities include non-English speakers, immigrants, members of the LGBTQUIA 2 Spirit community, rural ranchers and farmers, people of color, and children under 5. It’s important that these communities are counted to ensure they have access to important services like culturally relevant health services, multilingual educational materials, translation services and more.
I hope that you will not only participate in the census, but also talk to your friends, family and communities about the importance of completing the census questionnaire - which takes about ten minutes to complete. Those ten minutes will go a long way to ensuring that Oregonians get a fair share of funding and representation.
The Auditor's Role in Racial Justice
Occasionally, I receive emails from people wanting to know what I am doing to address police brutality, support the civil rights of people who are BIPOC, and address systemic racism. I stand with you in your calls to dismantle laws and practices that perpetuate injustice and white supremacy.
In my role as the Multnomah County Auditor, I direct audits of county operations. Through this, my office has the opportunity to call attention to injustices and inequitable practices. I also recommend changes in policy and practice to the county elected officials responsible for county operations, including the Sheriff and DA, and I follow-up on whether those changes took place. My office is currently auditing the county’s jails, and I plan more justice system audits in the future. Also, I have also requested agreements the Sheriff's Office has with other law enforcement agencies to review them from an accountability perspective.
I commit to ensuring that my office will double-down so that that our audits shine a light on current conditions so that we can build a more just government.
Helpful COVID-19 Links
- Read the latest Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 updates. (You can also sign up to receive updates via email or text.)
If you would like information on how to stay healthy, slow the spread of coronavirus, or how to report any issues, please visit https://multco.us/novel-coronavirus-covid-19.
Unfortunately, some communities have experienced acts of racism and xenophobia because of the myths surrounding COVID-19; this county site has information about how to report discrimination and find support.
If you are at work and your employer does not seem to be following public health directives, you can report that to Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Division.
This page contains resources to support our communities as we experience the COVID-19 pandemic and get through this together.
- Learn more about disability rights and COVID-19.