Racial Equity Committee (REQC) Approval, Recruitment, And Formation
In November 2020, the Sacramento CoC Board approved the creation of a Racial Equity Committee to serve through July 2021, with the primary purpose of recommending an action plan for the board’s approval. Intensive outreach efforts combined with tremendous interest from the community resulted in 66 applications being submitted. The Racial Equity Committee (REQC) membership slate was approved from this pool of applicants, with attention to ensuring robust inclusion of applicants who identified as BIPOC or as part of BIPOC families as well as those with lived experience of homelessness (a stipend was offered for members with lived experience). At the first meeting of the REQC in January 2021, the committee approved its ambitious work plan and initiated its implementation.
Subcommittee As A Working Group
Because the committee met once monthly, an ad hoc subcommittee structure was utilized to move the work forward between the committee meetings. Interested committee members, along with SSF staff and members of the public, met one to three times monthly to address the project at hand. These meetings were opportunities to delve deeper into the questions and issues that were raised at the committee meetings, and to prep materials and recommendations for the full committee’s consideration. The membership was fluid so that individuals could participate based on their interests and availability. It was in these meetings that the logistics and assignments for the BIPOC interviews were ironed out, that feedback was provided on the REQ data webpage, that understanding and gaps in our best practices were discussed, and that the action plan began to take shape.
Activities And Inputs
There were a number of activities and inputs that informed our findings and the recommendations that resulted from those findings.
REQ 3-Part Training Series: CoC Board members, REQC members, and CoC-funded providers were invited to participate in an interactive training series in Spring 2021 designed to build a common knowledge base and move our community in the direction of collective, coordinated, well-informed action — at the individual, organizational, and systemic level. For each session, post-training professional development assignments and resources were offered along with a follow-up Courageous Conversation. The titles of the trainings were:
- I Am a Good Person: I Can’t Possibly Have Bias. And Other Myths About How Our Brains Work.
- Acknowledging Our Shared Inheritance: Government-Sanctioned Bias, Systemic Racism, and a Renewed Demand for Change
- Bringing It All Together: Aligning Our Heads, Our Hearts, and Our Institutions for Equity
Access these training materials here. To protect confidentiality and encourage transparency, the trainings were not recorded.
BIPOC Interviews: To augment our quantitative data, the REQC engaged in a community-based participatory research process to design and conduct interviews with BIPOC who were currently experiencing or had recently experienced homelessness. See the full report of this process and its findings.
Listening Sessions with Other Communities: SSF staff and REQC co-chairs engaged staff and consultants from other communities around the country to learn about their efforts towards racial equity, including their innovations, challenges, structures, funding, and advice.
Stakeholder Forum: In April 2021, the REQC held an online forum to discuss with the broader community the questions that were driving the action plan. Several local leaders were invited as panelists to represent their BIPOC-led and/or BIPOC-serving organizations. Following the panel, participants met in small breakout groups that then reported out. Access the recording of this forum, as well as the follow-up forum in which we previewed the draft action plan.
Annual CoC Meeting: At the May 2021 meeting, we heard from local community members, including youth, with lived experience of homelessness. We also hosted three breakout sessions, including Advancing Racial Equity: Social Justice Through Community Engagement. In this session, we had the opportunity to explore several community-driven efforts to advance racial equity and re-imagine our homelessness system as being fully inclusive, anticipatory, and responsive. See the session materials.
Community Input Forms: Following the first Stakeholder Forum and the Annual CoC Meeting, survey links were provided to the public to provide input on what they would like to see our community commit to. Among others, questions included: How can we ensure non-discrimination in our homelessness services system? How can we expand funding to underserved communities and non-traditional providers? How should the CoC Board partner to promote racial equity? What performance measures should we be tracking?
Presentations on System Performance: At the REQC meetings, we engaged with SSF staff to gain a clear picture of our system performance from the perspective of: Local Race and Ethnicity Data, the VI-SPDAT assessment tools used to prioritize individuals and families for housing and other services, Coordinated Entry, and the recently conducted Gaps Analysis. Committee members and the public received presentations and materials and were able to ask questions.
Presentations on Best Practices: Outside guests as well as REQC members were invited to educate us on the unique histories and needs of some of the populations that are over-represented in homelessness. Due to time constraints and availability of presenters, there were limitations on the number of presentations. There were two presentations from the Native American lens (one on housing and the other on health), and one each from the lens of Latinx Intersectionality and BIPOC with Disabilities.
As the recommendations have emerged from the findings, we have assigned them a number of T1, T2, or T3 based on our understanding of their ease of implementation, with T1 recommendations currently having the greatest capacity, resources, political will, partnerships, timeliness, and other considerations making them the “lowest hanging fruit”, while T3 recommendations currently present the greatest stretch. The plan has been designed to fulfill a 3-5 year vision, with the anticipation that some recommendations will be implemented sooner than others.
The final action plan will be on the agenda of the REQC’s Jul 21, 2021, meeting for discussion and approval. If approved, it will be on the agenda of the CoC’s Aug 11, 2021, meeting for discussion and approval. Both of these meetings are open to the public. We invite your participation! Visit our website for meeting details.