Planning Office for Urban Affairs, Inc. Statement on Racial Justice and Inequity

Planning Office for Urban Affairs, Inc. Statement on Racial Justice and Inequity

In the time since George Floyd’s killing at the hands of police, our country has been filled with grief and righteous anger, sparking protests nationwide. The pain, frustration, and desire for change expressed through these protests reflect a history of racist, white supremacist violence and harassment by police and civilians, leading to the killing or injuring of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, the disproportionate and often wrongful mass incarceration of thousands, as well as the everyday stress and trauma of living with racism. All of this follows several months of an ongoing pandemic, social distancing, and widespread economic disruption— the health, social, and economic effects of which have also disproportionately fallen on the vulnerable, including elders, essential workers, and Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

These related crises reveal, yet again, the deep, historic, and continuing reality of racism and inequality in our country, and the disparities they cause in all facets of life. As Cardinal O’Malley noted:

“George Floyd’s death occurred in the midst of the most catastrophic healthcare crisis in our history. We are all threatened by it. But the African American community has been impacted in numbers far beyond its size in the country. This fact in turn is related to and repeated in other issues of healthcare, employment and housing.”

As a social justice ministry that seeks to create vibrant communities through the development of high quality affordable and mixed-income housing, we know that racial justice and actively addressing the ugly history of segregation, redlining, urban renewal and other discriminatory practices manifested by the housing industry is inextricably linked with our mission. Indeed, Pope Francis said in a recent statement on George Floyd and the protests that “we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form.”

Challenging times like these offer us the opportunity to reflect, reevaluate, and recommit ourselves to doing this work more intentionally. We must resolve that even—especially— after the protests fade and the media coverage subsides, the work continues. The Planning Office for Urban Affairs is as dedicated and committed as ever to approaching our work with a racial justice and equity lens by:

  • Promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and empowerment throughout our staff and leadership.
  • Creating and strengthening new and existing relationships with Minority and Women Business Enterprises through the development and operations of our properties.
  • Incorporating and expanding resident services that support health and socioeconomic mobility and wellbeing at our properties, such as through our health and housing initiative and financial education and savings programs, as well as providing affordable homeownership opportunities.
  • Advocating for city, state, and federal policies and budget priorities that support racial justice, including increasing affordable housing production and funding critical community services.

Through these efforts and others, we will strive to continue listening, learning, and holding ourselves and others accountable to our values. Doing so is how we truly create a world where every person has a safe, affordable home and is free to live a full, healthy life with dignity and respect.