The Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) has awarded the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) a $20,000 grant to advance racial equity in the city of Kalamazoo. MDCR will partner with the city to strengthen community partnerships and develop a racial equity lens to better analyze and address the issue of fair housing in the city.
“There has been growing concern from Kalamazoo residents about issues related to housing, including quality and affordability, as well as high rates of homelessness,” said Agustin Arbulu, Executive Director, Michigan Department of Civil Rights. “Looking at this concern through a racial equity lens, we see low rates of home ownership for people of color, high rates of concentrated poverty in neighborhoods where African Americans and Latinos live, and the legacy of redlining and segregation. This grant award enables us to bring together multiple efforts in a comprehensive and sustained way to help foster actionable change.”
Racial equity is the systemic fair treatment of all races that produces equitable opportunities and outcomes for all people. Using a racial equity lens in analyzing societal problems allows communities to focus on the ways in which race and ethnicity shape experiences with power, access to resources and opportunity, and helps them find solutions that advance racial equity.
The GARE grant is designed to provide flexible resources for local government to seed projects that are focused on eliminating structural racism. The grant will support the work of MDCR to:
- Build and deepen partnerships between the City of Kalamazoo, MDCR and community-based organizations focused on advancing racial equity;
- Connect government entities to the community-based process and emerging infrastructure of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) process in Kalamazoo and nationally;
- Assist the City of Kalamazoo to adopt a racial equity framework in both its internal and external operations, including the implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) framework. Efforts will focus on, but will not be limited to, the Edison, Northside and Eastside neighborhoods. The results of this work will be incorporated into the City of Kalamazoo’s required Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Consolidated Plan for 2019-2024.
Along with MDCR and the city of Kalamazoo, other partners in the effort include the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, the Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community (ISAAC), the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and Eliminating Racism and Claiming/Celebrating Equity (ERACCE).
“GARE’s Implementation and Innovation Fund offers the prospect of building cross-sector collaboration with partners who have extensive reach and influence in the community,” said Arbulu. “It’s also an opportunity to bring together state and city government, as well as philanthropic and community-based organizations to work collaboratively in advancing racial equity. We’re excited about the promise this project represents.”
"The City of Kalamazoo is honored and excited to participate as a collaborative partner in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity Implementation and Innovation fund," said Dorla Bonner, Community Development Manager for the City of Kalamazoo. "The goal of collaborating with community organizations to work toward equity in fair housing is directly in support of the City of Kalamazoo’s Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo initiative as well as the Imagine Kalamazoo Master Plan and Strategic Vision. We see this as the beginning of how we as a community combine efforts and resources to improve the lives of all Kalamazoo residents."