The rate of poverty is rising among African immigrants in the Portland metro region. That’s according to a report from the Coalition of Communities of Color and Portland State University, which details changing demographics in the African community.
According to the report, Africans in the Portland metro area come from 28 countries, with the largest numbers coming from Somalia, Egypt and Sierra Leone.
It also shows that more than half the African immigrants in the region live in poverty – and that two-thirds of the children in these communities are living in poverty.
At the Portland City Council meeting Wednesday afternoon, PSU researcher Ann Curry Stevens described a highly educated community suffering from high unemployment and a lack of health insurance. Curry said more than 40 percent of African children are not meeting educational benchmarks.
Koffi Dessou is a board member of Africa House, part of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.
“The well-being of African immigrant and refugee populations is at stake,” Dessou said.
Dessou told the Portland City Council that the city should work with African immigrants to find culturally-specific solutions to problems their families face.
Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick both expressed interest in finding a way to recognize academic and professional credentials so that Africans can get jobs that fit their degrees.