Civil Rights March, Washington DC August 28th, 1963 & Protesters in response to the murder of George Floyd, June 2020. (https://unsplash.com/s/photos/civil-rights)
Housing Inequality and The Disease of Racism
It has been a challenging time for humanity. We find our country reliving history, a sort of civil rights “Déjà vu” and as I sit with my feelings around the televised murder of George Floyd, I think about my own experience with racism. I have always identified as bi-racial, but I was born into a family history of racism. I grew up in Portland, Oregon as the only child to a white mother, white grandparents and white aunts and uncles. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side had ties to Klan activity. Reminders of my otherness showed up in family dinners where tempers flared about my absent father, my mother’s disappointing choice. I grew up in white neighborhoods and attended a predominately white elementary school. I leaped into my identity of color after convincing my mother to allow me to attend a predominately black middle school on the other side of the river.
Three years of hour-long commutes by school bus to and from “the bad side of town” opened my eyes up to housing inequality at such a very young age. Isolating bus rides out of my pristine, white-suburban neighborhoods into the disarray of what had once been a thriving black community was education at its best. My other-side-of-the-river school mates couldn’t come home with me to play as I lived too far away in unfamiliar territory and the same applied to me. My time at Harriet Tubman Middle School changed my life. Suddenly the things about myself that felt so different like skin color and hair texture were commonplace but there was a new otherness I had to acknowledge and that was the lightness of my skin-tone. Now, I was neither white or black, I was “mixed” or what is now referred to as “bi-racial” and secretly, I loved this new identity. As a teen and adult, I have enjoyed a seat in-between, a racial gate between my white and black friends and I recognize that is a seat of privilege. I speak to put into perspective that within the social construct of racism there are layers and layers, we all carry whether we can identify them or not. The disease that is racism is so deeply rooted in our history and lived experiences that it will take all of us to recognize it. Through story and action, we can attempt to heal old wounds, educated ourselves and shift our perspectives.
Home2Health Program Assistant
June is National Healthy Homes Month!
The City of Fort Collins’ Healthy Homes Program is celebrating National Healthy Homes Month by sharing resources and gifts on how to create a healthier and safer home. Indoor air quality can be up to 5 times worse than outdoor air, and with more time being spent in homes, it is more important than ever to ensure our homes are healthy.
Complete a DIY Assessment of your home and receive a personalized set of recommendations on how to reduce exposure to indoor air contaminants and safety hazards. Along with recommendations, if you complete the assessment and email the Healthy Homes Program (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your results before the end of the month, you will receive free gifts, including: Radon Test Kit, Healthy Household Cleaner, Healthy Household Cleaning Recipes and a Sustainable Cloth for Dusting.
In order to be eligible for the free gifts, Fort Collins community members must complete the online assessment and email in their results before July 1, 2020. Learn more here: fcgov.com/healthyhomes
City of Fort Collins Selects Interim Housing Manager
Earlier this year, the City began recruitment for our very first Housing Manager. The position’s goal is to elevate and accelerate strategic vision and execution of one of the top Council and community priorities – Affordable and Attainable Housing. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic impact on household incomes has made the need for housing stability even more critical in response and recovery. We also recognize that housing is one of the most inequitable systems in our country, and there is much work to do to begin dismantling these inequities.
Though the City is currently operating under a hiring freeze, the City has selected Lindsay Ex to serve as the Interim Housing Manager for the next 9-12 months to continue supporting critical work on housing affordability and stability. Lindsay has a planning background, served on the core team for City Plan, and was in the City’s Planning, Development and Transportation service area for 5 years prior to becoming the Climate Program Manager in Sustainability Services in 2015.
One of Lindsay’s main areas of focus will be the development of the City’s first Housing Strategic Plan, which will expand the scope of our prior Affordable Housing Strategic Plans. The Housing Strategic Plan will be developed over the next year in close partnership and collaboration with Home2Health, community members, and key stakeholders. To begin this work, Lindsay is conducting a series of listening sessions with various stakeholders and community groups. If you would like to visit with her, please contact Lindsay at email@example.com.
Mark Your Calendars: Our Climate Future Affordable Housing Week (July 6th-10th)
Our Climate Future will be asking community members for their ideas on how to achieve the community’s goals around waste, energy, and climate as part of the next phase of Our Climate Future. This new phase of engagement builds upon priorities identified last fall, which include affordable housing, sustainable transportation, reuse and recycling, renewable energy, equity, inclusion, and more.
We have seen how collective action changed the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are seeing how it is elevating the voices of people of color to combat systemic racism in America. Collective action can also be a powerful tool to ensuring our climate future is equitable, resilient, and prosperous for all and we want your ideas and solutions!
Learn more at fcgov.com/climatefuture.
Want to share your ideas for Our Climate Future?
Want to dive deeper? Sign up for an affordable housing workshop!
Home2Health Year One Reflections
It’s hard to believe the Home2Health project is nearing the end of its first year. As our partners (Larimer County, CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation, Family Leadership Training Institute, La Famila and Partnership for Age Friendly Communities) reflect over the take-aways from year one, here is some of what’s been said:
“In reflection for capacity building for collective action, we have to continue to look for ways we can work together to change policy”.
“We did a good job of engaging marginalized communities and community members that are part of the communities of color and we pivoted quickly to online technology in response to COVID-19”.
“Community Guides have uniquely empowered all of the folks that they have trained. In my mind, we have empowered them (Guides) to go out and be leaders in the community”.
“It takes a lot of internal champions to make this type of work happen and there has been a ton of ground cover amidst a pandemic.”
We are excited to continue moving this work forward in Home2Health’s second year, and to keep growing, learning, and building capacity for change in Fort Collins.