Oregon bill would make it easier for homeowners to remove racist language from deeds and property documents
A bill in Oregon's state legislature would make it easier to remove racist language from house deeds.
A 2018 version of the bill that was passed has been criticized for not fully removing the language.
Residents who testified in support of the bill said they feel uncomfortable signing documents with racist language.
A bill introduced last month in Oregon's state legislature would make it easier for homeowners to remove racist and discriminatory language in deeds, many of which date back over 100 years.
The legislation was introduced last month, and a public hearing was held on the bill this week. It's the second attempt at a bill with this intended purpose, as a 2018 version that passed was criticized for being inefficient and not getting rid of the language entirely, KPVI reported.
The new bill would create an archive for old versions of the property documents, allowing them to be entirely replaced with new versions that don't have the offensive language, KVAL reported.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that the offensive clauses were used by developers in the early 1900s to exclude people of color from their neighborhoods.
"No Negros, Chinese, or Japanese shall own or occupy property in this neighborhood unless they are a worker or a servant," one clause read in a deed discovered by a real estate agent in 2018, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
While the language can no longer legally be enforced due to the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, residents who provided testimony for this week's hearing said they are not comfortable signing documents with the language.
"The distinction I would make, is that the racially restrictive language that remains in these documents is not only an ongoing racial scar but a legal document that requires I sign if I am to purchase my home," Oregon resident Gerrit Koepping wrote in his testimony.
He continued: "I am affixing my name to a statement of horrific racism. Not only am I doing so, but so are the people who purchase my home from me and the people who purchase their home from them. This language of racial hatred will last forever."
Koepping told The Oregonian that he and his wife were stunned to find a clause forbidding people of color from owning property in their neighborhood while signing documents for the house they bought in 2018.
The sponsor of the bill Rep. Daniel Nguyen, said at the hearing that the legislation is not a legal requirement that every racist clause must be found and removed, but it is an option for homeowners who wish to remove the language from documents associated with their home, KPVI reported.
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