HDC’s Racial Equity Project

Monica & Reuben at HDC's OfficeKing County is a culturally diverse area that houses 2 million people, too many of whom do not have a place to call home.  The reasons for this lack of access to affordable housing are many.  To address one facet of this problem, HDC has brought on two new Coordinators to the Racial Equity Project!  This project came out of HDC’s Resident Services Affinity Group in collaboration with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights. Inspired by the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, the great interest in racial equity work among HDC’s members has unfolded into the current work of the Project.

Spearheaded by Monica Joe and Reuben Waddy, this project is meant to identify key issues in the intersection of racial equity and housing.  The first step in the journey towards a more equitable King County housing market is to create a toolkit that HDC and its member organizations will use to implement racial equity into their DNA.

Inspired by the good work of the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) and the Western States Center (WSC), a draft toolkit is nearly ready to be unveiled to eager members. The toolkit was designed with the following tenets in mind: Education, Identification, Creation, and Implementation. The kit will assist members in educating their staff, identifying key areas of racial equity opportunity within their organizations, then creating and implementing a plan for seizing these opportunities.

Using the toolkit, member organizations can address equity issues and spark internal change. As the toolkit starts to circulate, we will also be formulating a strategic plan that will outline best practices to further disseminating and developing the kit to meet member needs.

This project allows HDC to integrate a racial equity lens into all of our work, and mirrors values already reflected in our strategic plan as we strive to “serve the cause of access to affordable housing.” In our member programming, the Leadership Development Initiative is already working to make racial and social equity a priority; Cultural Competency and Institutional Racism will be one of the many topics that the LDI will be covering in 2015. The Racial Equity Project marks the start of a strong commitment on the part of HDC to engage in racial equity, and to provide the necessary tools for our members to do the same.

Monica and Reuben are excited about the opportunity to move forward with this work.  Both recognize the importance of this project: our community is projected to be “majority minority” by 2035, and with that comes a responsibility to accommodate those who will need the most assistance.

It is our goal to address issues pertaining to racial equity transparently and effectively with the help of our esteemed members. Here’s to striving towards a more equitable King County!