City's Draft Racial Equity Plan Short on Action
Updated: Feb 3
Ward 3 Housing Justice
Release: February 1 2023
Contact: Gail Sonnemann, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-286-0845
The draft DC Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP) lacks urgency, specificity, and any strong commitments to concrete action asserts Ward 3 Housing Justice (W3HJ) in recommendations submitted to the DC Office of Racial Equity (ORE). There is little in the plan that directly addresses the purpose “to identify and understand the root causes of racial inequities” and to address those harms by “tailoring policy and programmatic solutions to those most harmed by individual, institutional, and structural racism.”
“The plan is unlikely to effect significant change since it is largely focused on process, and the outcomes are mainly counting the places and number of times the process gets done, “ said W3HJ member Jayme Epstein. “In large part, it is a three-year plan to plan; without strong commitment to action that would eliminate racial inequities, it is unlikely to move the needle.”
W3HJ urges that the ORE engage with experts to rewrite the plan with measurable program outcomes. Additional recommendations include:
Evaluate current programs, policies and practices to identify those that cause or do not repair racial inequities--a prerequisite to developing corrective strategies.
Identify outcomes that reflect an increase in equity for each of the 7 themes identified in the plan, then use indicators of progress toward those outcomes.
Require that agencies provide narrative descriptions of how proposed projects or increased program funding will further the goals of overcoming segregation and fostering healthy, inclusive communities. Increased funding alone is not evidence of REAP planning.
Identify priority geographic areas of the city that warrant focused attention by overlaying indicators (e.g.,unemployment or healthcare access) on census tracts to see how the data coincides with demographics of race and ethnicity.
Improve community engagement. Give community members a greater role in planning and budgeting from the outset, ensure that affected community members comprise the majority of the participants in planning groups, and include in all planning the grassroots organizations that represent and/or are led by impacted community members, like Empower DC and Ward 8 Community Economic Development.
Develop community engagement indicators that reflect how community comments have been incorporated, and require ORE to assess whether a new or modified program or policy had meaningful community engagement.
Require all agencies, not just those in the pilot, to produce a REAP annually, which documents measurable results and describes changes made as they work toward racially equitable outcomes. The master plan should, but does not yet, provide a framework for agencies to do this effectively.
At a January 26 webinar sponsored by Ward 8 Community Economic Development about the plan, Nate Fleming, member of Empower DC, said, “This plan does not even commit to reporting progress, much less accountability.” He added there “must be a specific goal-setting process, with real commitments to measurable outcomes, and Council has a role to play.”
Anne Murphy of W3HJ said, “the major deficiency of the REAP is that it does not identify or correct the city’s huge racial inequities. W3HJ looks forward to a rewrite that adopts productive strategies from the best action-oriented plans from around the country.“