Equity and community development is about ensuring that ALL residents of our community can thrive. This includes meeting the needs of ALL residents for fair, safe, and affordable housing, encouraging Just Big Enough housing, focusing on climate change, especially as it affects front-line communities, resiliency, community economic development, social services, accessibility of all kinds, and especially for those with disabilities, and opportunities to break cycles of repression and disadvantage. In our work, we consider five aspects of equity:
Distributional Equity: Ensuring that all of our populations have the resources for sustainable development and opportunity. We explore, for example, the distribution of public goods (windfalls) and undesirable features (wipeouts) against our concentrations of poverty, disadvantaged or under-resourced populations, and minority (global majority) populations (identified by the state as environmental justice populations) to identify who is being served and who is not, and how. Public goods, from public health outcomes to transportation options to recreation and open space opportunities, should be distributed equitably. We pay special attention to front-line communities, which by virtue of location or resources will be disproportionately affected by climate change, communities suffering from institutional and historic racism and inequity, and persons with disabilities.
Structural Equity: Ensuring that we are doing all that we can to overcome decades of institutional racism and disparities in public and private investment, from allowing more flexibility on multifamily and affordable housing to creating a community resilience hub. For example, we want to understand disparities that can not be explained by anything other than race and institutional racism.
Procedural Equity: Ensuring that all populations are represented in the decision-making process and especially reducing the bias from those populations that can most easily attend public meetings. For example, studies have shown that the populations most likely to come to public hearings about individual projects are middle-class homeowners, yet 45% of Northampton’s population is renters and they are underrepresented in these hearings.
Intergenerational Equity: Ensuring that the decisions we make today do not rob our children, our grandchildren, and our environment of future opportunities. For example, climate change is the most obvious of these issues, where investments today will affect our youth and unborn generations.
Cultural Equity: Ensuring that all cultures, not just the majority culture, are treated with respect and dignity and we minimize our bias for cultures that decision-makers most associate with.