PORTLAND, Ore. — Descendants and survivors of Black Portlanders, who were forced out of their homes in the Central Albina district in the 1960s and 70s, have filed a lawsuit against the city of Portland, Prosper Portland and what is now Legacy Emanuel Health, demanding they make up for a historical wrong.
171 families were forced from their homes in the predominantly Black neighborhood by a hospital expansion project that never happened. The lawsuit alleges a conspiracy between city leaders and the hospital decades ago to remove Black people from Central Albina under a "false name of progress and the removal of 'blight.'"
The group Emanuel Displaced Persons Association 2, or EDPA2, plus 26 families are seeking "tangible justice beyond symbolic apologies," including financial restitution for their losses.
In the newly filed lawsuit, the plaintiffs said the destruction of their home led to the destruction of a "vibrant, close-knit and thriving community," and the deprivation of inheritance, intergenerational wealth and opportunity.
The suit also alleges the city of Portland, the former Portland Development Commission and Emanuel Hospital acted out of "pure racism," removing families from the "economically desirable neighborhood" under the guise of addressing "urban blight" for a hospital expansion that never happened.
In the 54-page lawsuit, the descendants describe the importance of these homes within the community, the struggles their families faced after they were forced out and just how much the homes would be worth now had they not been razed. Many estimated their worth at more than half a million dollars.
The group and families suing told KGW they are not doing interviews at this time, but provided a statement that reads, in part:
This lawsuit is about reconciling the past and correcting for the future. Our families worked tirelessly to afford their homes and plan for their futures. They paid taxes and contributed to the success of that neighborhood, which later became a thriving community. The actions of the city, Prosper Portland and Legacy Emanuel continue to affect us to this day as our loss of income continues and our wellbeing is disregarded. We’re ready for this fight, which is not just for us, but for our parents, our grandparents and for future generations as well.
KGW reached out to the defendants for comment. So far, only Legacy Emanuel responded, and a spokesperson said they've received the lawsuit, and are evaluating the complaint. KGW is waiting to hear back for the other two defendants.
READ: The lawsuit documents