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The Ferguson Commission just delivered their comprehensive report, Forward through Ferguson, A Path Toward Racial Equality to the governor. Within its pages, the thoughtful, detailed and blunt document calls out 189 action items on topics including education, economy, criminal justice and housing.
At the heart of this report, one thing is emphatically clear – this is about racial inequality.
Upon reading the report, I was excited to see that so many of the action items mentioned included work Beyond Housing is already doing. From assisting with police accreditation, to court consolidation, to early childhood savings accounts, to investing in high quality early childhood education and providing affordable housing with support services that work – the guiding strategies and solutions Beyond Housing already implements undulates throughout the text.
Now, while Beyond Housing is not necessarily looking for affirmation – it is always good to receive. The Ferguson Commission report is filled with many regional leaders who I deeply respect. To have these same leaders match regional need with the types of solutions that are currently underway in our 24:1 Initiative is welcome as we continue to help entire communities become better places to live.
Yet, this affirmation in no way eases the challenges in front of us and those we serve.
The conclusion stated in their overview of the report:
“…If we are to move forward as a region; if we are to make true; long term sustainable progress we can’t avoid our reality – we must confront it, and work through it. We believe that if we attempt to shut the difficult truths, if we try to avoid talking about race; if we stop talking about Ferguson, as many in the region would like us to, then we cannot move forward. Progress is rarely simple, and it rarely goes in a straight line.”
Indeed, we can and should be proud of our efforts to date. Yet, we must never be satisfied or lose our sense of urgency.
We must not lose sight of the priority of changing systems and not simply creating transactions.
We must not lose sight of getting to scale with all the programs being carried out in the 24:1 Initiative.
Progress is certainly not simple but it is happening in our community. Our challenge, and one we take with great responsibility, is to work through all the issues that will prevent our community from moving forward. And though these lines may not always be straight, we will continue to move towards the solution.
I’ve been working in community development in the St. Louis area for 25 years, and I’ve been the CEO of Beyond Housing since 1993. While I’m proud of our accomplishments, I don’t claim to be an expert. At Beyond Housing, the experts we listen to are the voices of the community members we serve. I’ll be raising issues here that I believe matter to our community. I hope you’ll join the conversation. We do reserve the right not to post comments containing offensive language. To paraphrase Dr. King, we can disagree without being disagreeable.