Over the last century, communities in America have undergone growth and various changes. However, many are questioning where those gains are flowing to. Underneath the growth from the last century, communities are held back by rising inequality that is further exacerbated by systemic inequities. For low income people of color, the legacy of deliberate racist policies such as redlining, have shut out wealth building opportunities.
But growth in our communities doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of running an outdated playbook of assumptions on how communities prosper, communities can embrace becoming “All-in Communities” that focus on the participation and inclusion of those groups that have been left behind.
What is an “All-in Community”? The answer begins with equity, which allocates resources and opportunities to the specific community needs of groups in order to counteract the barriers and systemic exclusions (historic and current) that prevent people from realizing their potential. Fundamentally, a bottom-up approach that ensures that individual needs are met and given the opportunity to thrive.
Because of this, an all-in community approach is constantly evolving and dynamic, reflecting the changing needs of its people. This requires communities to be proactive in their policymaking, to undo past injustices, while simultaneously preventing future ones.
Increase access to high quality, affordable homes and prevent displacement
Housing and where you live nearly affect every aspect of your life – the quality of your school, where you work, who your friends and neighbors are, your commute time, your exposure to pollution, and many more. But communities across America are seeing housing prices and rents skyrocket to unaffordable levels. As a result, low income communities of color are being pushed out of their homes to locations that are farther from jobs, services and transportation. An all-in community begins with abundant, secure, affordable housing to expand housing opportunity
and prevent displacement of low-income communities of color.
Create healthy, opportunity-rich communities
Most low-income people of color live in disinvested, racially and economically segregated neighborhoods in central cities and inner-ring suburban cities—and often over multiple generations. All-in communities coordinate services and quality of life improvements in these areas to spur equitable development. Examples of these improvements include – increasing access to health foods and building more equitable food systems, building and maintaining high quality parks, and leveraging federal resources (like community development
block grants) to create opportunity rich communities.
Build resilient, connected infrastructure
Physical infrastructure – roads, transit, sidewalks, bridges, and more – allow communities to transport people, goods, and services, and access essential services and information. But much of the infrastructure in underinvested communities is crumbling or antiquated, unsuited to meet the mobility needs of residents. Furthermore, during the 20th century, highways were built through existing Black and brown communities, disconnecting them from neighboring communities. Too often funds are targeted towards projects that have historically harmed marginalized communities. All-in communities ensure federal, state, regional, and citywide infrastructure projects accommodate the needs of all their residents and are equitably targeted.
All-in Communities Strategy
All-in communities require buy-ins from all parts of the community. Local governments should and can take the initiative on equitable growth, but they need the support of federal policy and practices. Likewise, the private sector can play the unique and important role of investing within their communities. Community based organizations can carry and bridge the gaps that may exist between partners as they facilitate conversations.
Communities should use key indicators in order to measure tangible progress on goals towards ensuring equity. But indicators alone do not lead to equitable outcomes, communities will need to understand the underlying causes of how these inequities came to be and persist in the present day.
Work that Snotrac is doing
Snotrac works with private, nonprofit, and government organizations in order to identify and address mobility gaps. While Snotrac’s mission is primarily oriented towards mobility, we work with an all-communities framework in mind so that transportation works in conjunction with all parts of the community – housing, infrastructure, and services.
For more information, check out PolicyLink’s All-in Cities initiative.