Proposed Equity Office aims to eliminate inequalities

Austin skyline (KXAN Photo/ Frank Martinez)
Austin skyline (KXAN Photo/ Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin is taking a new step in an effort to be fair with all of their programs and the people who are a part of them, by creating an Equity Office.

The idea with this office is anytime the city creates a new program, implements a new transportation option, or works on the budget – this office would look at who would benefit and who wouldn’t.

Two years ago the Hispanic Latino Quality of Life Advisory Commission called on the city to create an Equity Office in an effort to show there are number of inequities that can make it hard for people of color to live in this city. They wanted a direct advocate within city government who would look at some key factors like who is going to be impacted by a decision, are there any negative consequences, and take into account any unintended problems.

“That work is being done but it’s being done informally and so now we’re going to formalize that process,” said Ray Baray, Chief of Staff, City Manager’s Office. “We want to make sure we do all of those things in sort of a checklist that it’s going to be top of mind whenever we have a new policy, program, or budget decision.”

Wednesday night starts a series of town hall meetings to get the public’s feedback on what they would like to see out of this new office. The first meeting takes place at the Asian American Resource Center on Cameron Road from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

City officials hope to have this new office operating by mid-summer and a new Chief of Equity employed by then as well. Several other cities across the country like Portland and Seattle already have this type of office in place so city officials have been looking at what has worked for them.

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