Over a month ago we at HDC MidAtlantic (HDC) publicly denounced the violent death of George Floyd and the many black and brown lives lost through police violence and reiterated our commitment to antiracism and advancing equity. In our statement released on June 1 we said,
HDC envisions a world where a safe, affordable and welcoming place to call home is open to everyone. This vision cannot become a reality until America fully comes to terms with its legacy of systemic racism. Dismantling the racism that leads to the kind of unjust violence we have witnessed, not just last week but over and over, takes every one of us stepping up to do better.
We are heartened by the groundswell of public support across America for protesters demanding change in the face of systemic racism. And we find signs of hope in the widespread public discourse about police violence, economic and social injustice, and our nation’s deep legacy of racism. Black lives matter. Yet we acknowledge that far too often public outcry and talk of change has fizzled out, and real change does not come.
We know our commitments must be ongoing and ever-deepening, and we know we must act to effect change within and beyond our organization. In 2019, HDC named advancing equity one of its five strategic priorities, and joined our peers across the country by enrolling in a 15-month training program sponsored by NeighborWorks America to help us build knowledge and skills, create tools for meaningful conversations and take action.
We also recognize that this work requires applied discipline in perpetuity. We are committed to developing and implementing a long-range equity plan and filter to apply to all actions and decisions that will lead to equitable outcomes. To this end, we will:
- Implement professional development and training for all staff and board members to build knowledge and increase social justice and racial equity, diversity and inclusion practices. We are making a deeper commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity by having strategic discussions to cultivate more understanding of the communities that we serve and bring resident perspectives, needs, feedback, and priorities into the boardroom.
- Apply the lens of racial equity, diversity and inclusion to all operational policies and procedures, human resource practices, securing of contractors and other vendors, and choosing partners. We are currently revising our resident selection and credit check criteria to reduce barriers and increase access to affordable housing.
- Implement strategies for developing resident leaders and engaging residents in meaningful conversations to affect positive change in their communities, which includes the creation of a resident advisory council and a resident leadership program.
- Develop the capacity to serve as robust public policy advocates at local, state and federal levels. In 2021, we plan to hire an Advocacy and Engagement Coordinator to work with and better understand the needs of the communities we serve and advocate for housing policies and programs that lead to equitable outcomes.
- Implement strategies to enhance the quality of life and well-being of employees and promote pathways for career advancement for all current and future employees. We are currently assessing employee diversity, analyzing where power and authority is held, and evaluating how we can improve pathways for diverse and inclusive leadership and career advancement across the organization.
We have doubled down on these commitments and have expanded our Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) employee work group. We have created action teams focused on organizational culture, program operations and policies, human resources, and capacity building and training. We meet weekly, holding ourselves accountable to action and progress. We are determined to seize this moment. We know this will not be easy and we know it will take time. But we also know that every one of us can make a difference. We have been hard at work and ramping up our efforts and we are eager to join forces with partners who share these commitments. So, we ask of you now, what actions are you taking and will you share them?
Dana Hanchin, President and CEO
Steve J. Geisenberger, Board of Directors Chair