Our entire team is jolted and saddened by the violent and unjust killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement – just as we stand with our black employees, board members, partners, residents, community members – and implore our neighbors to not only stand together in protest, but to walk together in lockstep for long-term change. Race Matters. Black Lives Matter. But it isn’t enough for us to say either of those things – we have to make ourselves uncomfortable with the hard work to come.
One of the things that needs to happen is that organizations with white leadership – like ours – have to look deeply into ourselves, decide to be involved, and not to delay any action that grows from that decision. Not long ago Housing Trust began the process of educating ourselves about topics like implicit bias, the wealth gap, and systemic racism. Over a two year period, our staff led us through important, challenging and uncomfortable dialogues as we moved to educate one another and attempt to center race and equity in our work.
And it still isn’t nearly enough – not for our organization and not for any other. If we want to center diversity, equity and inclusion as a core value, we have to embed it into our workplace and into our everyday work – and when that work is affordable housing, there are unfortunately a lot of long-standing injustices that must be corrected.
The very goal of owning a home has been historically kept at a far greater distance from black people and people of color, and we must right the historical wrongs that created that pattern. Past redlining and racial segregation policies were used to keep people of color out of certain neighborhoods and continue to perpetuate a cycle of poverty and limited access to education and services. Our belief that safe, stable and affordable housing opens the doors to better living for everyone is only meaningful if the everyone part means everyone.
The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and violent reactions against peaceful marchers protesting against white supremacy, make it that much more urgent for all of us to educate ourselves and commit to action to change. At the Housing Trust, we have begun partnering with The Justice Collective to accelerate our work of centering race and equity into our affordable housing programs and organization. We didn’t think we’d be starting this in the aftermath of the unjustified killing of George Floyd, a community struggling though the anger of injustice, and the globe dealing with the chaos of COVID-19, but the events of recent days, months and even centuries reminds us why this work can’t be delayed.
Kevin Zwick, CEO, Housing Trust Silicon Valley
Craig Robinson, Board Chair, Housing Trust Silicon Valley