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SF forms office to tackle city’s racial inequities

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and city officials celebrated The City’s first Office of Racial Equity at a ceremonial signing of the legislation authored by supervisors Sandra Fewer and Vallie Brown.

The office, under jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission, seeks to advance and improve racial equity in The City and mend past policies that have worsened racial disparities.

Breed said at Tuesday’s ceremony:

“The Office of Racial Equity is really about making that investment, it is about saying that we are tired of reports and tired of the promises and we need to start putting our money where our mouth is.”

Breed added that The City had made previous attempts to address racial inequity, specifically in African American communities, but said problems persist in areas of housing access and homelessness.

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Mayor London Breed is seen signing legislation in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, to create The City’s first Office of Racial Equity.

Breed said:

“We have seen on many occasions the African American community lose time and time again.”

The legislation, passed by the Board of Supervisors in July and signed by Breed in August, requires city departments to submit plans by Dec. 31, 2020 that identify ways to address inequities with metrics by which goals will be achieved.

The Office of Racial Equity staff will review any legislation introduced by supervisors after Jan. 1, 2021 in areas of housing, land use, employment, economic security, public health and safety, assessing the impact of each proposed ordinance on racial equity.

Additionally, the office will report progress monthly to the Human Rights Commission.

Fewer said that people when come to San Francisco, they expect to see a diverse city where people of color are thriving, but she said:

“Yet, we are not seeing that.”

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Supervisor Sandra Fewer speaks at the podium celebrating the creation of San Francisco’s first Office of Racial Equity during a ceremony in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

Fewer continued:

“We are taking a stand in San Francisco to say San Francisco will not stand for systemic racism.”

Brown said the office will work with members of community to determine issues that should be taken up by the Board of Supervisors.

Brown said:

“Don’t we want the community to bring the policy, bring the funding suggestions to us? It has to come from the community not from us telling you what we need.”

Approximately $1 million have been allocated from The City’s current two-year budget to staff the new office for more than two years.

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