The Albany Racial Inclusivity and Social Equity (RISE) Commission met on December 5th. The meeting consisted of a presentation about the housing element, a discussion about a possible city equity officer, and an update about the Albany Reads Program.
The meeting began with the passing of the November 7th minutes and then Commissioner Akinyi Ajwang’ said that she encouraged the City of Albany to speak to their representatives about what they can do about the war in Gaza. Ajwang’ also announced that the Albany Reads Program now has a landing page, aclibrary.org/albany-reads.
Commissioners then discussed item 5 on the agenda. Leslie Mendes, the Planning Manager for The Albany Community Department, presented about the housing element action plan. She gave a brief overview of the strategy and discussed its goals, phases of implementation, and the things that the department is working on currently. The goals for the action plan are to achieve and/or address the following: equitable access to housing, housing production, implementation programs, special housing needs, reducing housing constraints, fair housing and housing security, and housing resources and administration. Mendes’s department intends to go to the city council in February to receive feedback on the housing element work plan. In March she will return to the RISE Commission for a review of the draft program and to garner additional feedback.
Commissioner Jim Lindsay suggested forming a subcommittee to organize feedback and meet with city staff about the housing element. Ajwang’ proposed that when Mendes’s Department meets, they include community members such as renters or low-income residents to weigh in on the conversation. Commissioner Flor Elizabeth Rios said that this is another reason why the city is in need of a city equity officer.
Commissioners then moved on to a discussion of item 6, one of the work plan items. Rios and Commissioner Erin Cho, who are part of the city’s equity statement subcommittee, gave an update and said that they had conducted community outreach and are waiting to meet again to regroup and write up a draft of the statement.
Moving on to the city-wide racial equity survey, Lindsay and Commissioner Charlotte Trenkle plan to meet with The Justice Collective and city staff on December 12th to further discuss and receive more feedback about how to move forward. The Read Along Program Subcommittee recently met with Albany Library staff to discuss the program and see how they can be of help. Commissioner Ife Fane also met with the Albany library manager on Dec. 7th about the program, its objectives, as well as how they can work together. Fane announced their plans to meet again the week of the 14th.
Moving on to items 6-2, Rios said she thought that the position of a city equity officer is necessary for Albany, and that it would help accelerate a lot of city projects. The Commission agreed to submit the following recommendation to the City of Albany, “That the city council hire an equity officer that is intimately aware of the needs of Albany residents from an equity perspective in order to accelerate the benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion goals set forth by the city council and the racial equity impact plan.” The Commission then created a subcommittee to focus on the equity officer position.
For future meeting agendas, Rios suggested that a small amount of time be allocated to the presentation of the city equity statement, and Lindsay suggested a presentation from The Justice Collective.
The next meeting will be held on January 2, 2024.
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