White House Holds Convening on Equity and Racial Justice; HUD Releases First-Ever Equity Plan

The White House held a virtual convening on April 14to announce the release of its racial justice and equity plan. More than 90 federal agencies – including all cabinet-level agencies – also released their first-ever Equity Action Plans, as called for by President Biden’s historic January 2021 Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.

On his first day in office, President Biden signed the Executive Order, which directs the federal government to advance an ambitious equity and racial justice agenda that matches the scale of the challenges and opportunities before us. Ambassador Susan Rice (Director of the Domestic Policy Council), Shalanda Young (Director of the Office of Management and Budget), and other members of President Biden’s cabinet – including HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge – have developed concrete strategies and articulated clear commitments in plans being released by agencies to address the systemic barriers in policies and programs that hold too many people in underserved communities back from prosperity, dignity, and equality.

In response to the President’s directive, HUD began formulating a department-wide plan, which included actions to reduce the racial homeownership gap and center equity in the delivery of services to people experiencing homelessness. HUD’s Equity Action Plan emphasizes the ways homelessness is experienced in cities, suburbs, rural areas, and tribal lands; across races and ethnicities; by families and individuals, young and old; and among male, female, transgender, and gender non-conforming people. Even within homeless populations, some groups are less likely to have safe access to homeless shelters, and some are likely to experience homelessness for more extended periods.

“Equity is central to HUD’s founding principles and the daily work we do as a department,” said Secretary Fudge. “We are excited to take this opportunity to join the rest of the federal government in emphasizing our commitment to making equity a leading compass within this administration.”

Another equity action plan was released by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). The plan focuses on four values – racial equity, Housing First, decriminalization, and inclusion – and identifies several actions that will be undertaken by USICH in pursuit of racial equity, including (1) centering racial equity in its upcoming Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, (2) engaging Tribal nations and re-establishing the Interagency Working Group on Native American Homelessness, and (3) assessing internal USICH policies and employees’ views of racial equity within the organization.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also released an equity action plan, which establishes an Equity Commission within USDA that will conduct a review and provide recommendations to the Secretary “for how the Department can take action to advance equity.”

The equity action plans released by HUD and other agencies (see related article in this Memo about FEMA’s plan) will expand federal investments in and support for communities and groups that have been locked out of opportunities for too long, including communities of color, Tribal communities, rural communities, LGBTQI+ communities, disability communities, communities of faith, women and girls, and communities impacted by persistent poverty. Officials stated that President Biden's agenda is not a “one-year project” but “an important step forward” in line with a “generational commitment.”

A video of the convening can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/bdew9mu4

Read the complete White House Equity Plans at: www.whitehouse.gov/equity 

Learn more about HUD’s Equity Action Plan at: https://www.hud.gov/equity

Read the full USICH Equity Action Plan here: https://bit.ly/3rOAjq7

See the full USDA Equity Action Plan here: https://bit.ly/3JD5KcZ