Don’t Shoot Portland is making a push to reclaim the former Albina Arts Center, once a significant cultural hub for Black communities in North and Northeast Portland. Located at 8 N.E. Killingsworth St., the center provided arts, music and cultural programs to the residents of the historically Black Albina neighborhood starting in the early 1960s. The building was acquired by the Albina Women’s League Foundation in the late 1960s. In 2015, the Oregon Department of Justice, which is responsible for overseeing the state’s charities, took control of the building after allegations that one of the foundation’s leaders was misappropriating funds.
Don’t Shoot Portland’s Teressa Raiford said that, until recently, the group rented two different units in the building. It moved out during the pandemic, in part due to poor maintenance, including a peeling ceiling and broken floorboards.
Kristen Chambers, an attorney for Don’t Shoot Portland, said their group has still not been given an opportunity to acquire the building. Chambers said that, in 2019, leaders with Don’t Shoot Portland approached the Oregon Department of Justice about acquiring the building, but their offer was rebuffed.
A spokesperson for the Oregon Community Foundation said it is holding onto the building in a “temporary, administrative capacity” at the request of the Department of Justice. The foundation plans on passing on ownership of the building soon, though it’s not clear who will acquire it. “In early 2022, in consultation with the DOJ, OCF will convene a community-based advisory committee to review interest from nonprofit organizations and recommend a grant recipient.”