One of the most important aspects of this Council’s work on affordability is redirecting resources and effort to where they can do the most good. This focus requires us to address racial and economic inequities. The long economic boom we’re enjoying here is not colorblind. Even after years of robust job growth, unemployment in Black and Hispanic households is way too high.
Did you know that in Austin, life expectancy is ten years greater in the West than in the East. Ten additional years to love your family and be loved. Ten more years to achieve so you can leave something behind.
That inequity is something we inherited, but we don’t have to pass it down to future generations. We need to expand opportunity in Austin to include everyone in every neighborhood.
The Spirit of East Austin framework, initiated three years ago by CMs Houston, Pool, Renteria, Troxclair and me, is about to bring to Council the fruits of the most extensive public engagement process I’ve ever seen. This has been a long time in coming.
Under the umbrella of that framework, we initiated the Mayor’s Institutional Racism Task Force. This task force has provided racial equity training for 210 corporate, non-profit, government, education, and grass roots leaders with another 160 to be trained later this week (70 of which will attend training entirely in Spanish). I hope thousands of Austinites get the opportunity to engage in such training.
It is a testament to her commitment to this work that CM Alter opened up her office budget to help other council staffs attend the training.
That task force’s work is also seeing tangible results. Out of 247 unique recommendations from the institutional racism task force, 60 have already been implemented, and an additional 96 recommended actions are either already underway or are planned.
Our city is finally taking actual steps to implement the Colony Park Master Plan II. It is important that this great master planned community is being planned in partnership with the community and is going to serve the holistic needs of the long-time residents. With CM Houston’s continued leadership, that neighborhood should soon have its pool… and more.
A special thanks to the Colony Park Neighborhood Association for their persistent, passionate, and knowledgeable engagement; you have taught us the true meaning of community engagement.
This Council created our Equity Office and it has already begun realizing the vision. It has just completed an analysis of the racism Task Force recommendations; it has begun making racial equity an integral part of each department’s practices and policies, as well as ensuring that equity is embedded in the priority strategic outcomes the Council is adopting to guide its work. Racial equity will be forever something we include from the get-go and not just as a box that’s checked at the end of a process.