The City of Seattle recognizes that systemic racism through the investments and policies by government and the private sector have caused generational harm and resulted in disinvestments in Black, Indigenous, and communities of color (BIPOC). The disparities have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, the City of Seattle, through multiple departments including the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD),  launched the Equitable Development Monitoring Program (EDMP) to measure and accelerate Seattle's progress toward becoming a more equitable city. 

The first EDMP Report, informed by extensive community engagement with BIPOC communities, utilizes twenty-one community indicators of equitable development spanning four broad themes - Home, Community, Transportation, and Education and Economic Opportunity to measure how the City is doing overall with break out data by race and ethnicity and neighborhood.   

This includes a special focus on how Race and Social Equity (RSE) priority areas - neighborhoods where communities of color are a relatively large share of residents - are faring on the key health and opportunity indicators relative to other neighborhoods and the city as a whole. The report details the inequities and disproportionate impacts to BIPOC communities through higher rates of poverty and housing cost burdens, greater disconnection from school and work, limited mobility options and a greater need to take long trips by transit, greater exposure to pollution, and lower access to well-performing neighborhood schools.

On November 28, 2017, the day she was sworn into office, Mayor Durkan signed an Executive Order focused on Race and Social Justice initiatives, and directed city Departments to take actions to increase equity throughout Seattle. The Mayor also implemented significant programs to advance opportunity and decrease displacement for BIPOC and other marginalized communities, including expanding quality preschool, providing two years free college and transit passes for all Seattle public high school students, expanding youth employment opportunities, issuing an Executive Order to counter displacement, accelerating the development of affordable housing and dedicating permanent resources for the Equitable Development Initiative.

Purpose and Key Focuses of the Task Force  

The Mayor believes it is time to not just build on these programs, but to make unprecedented and sustained investments in Black, Indigenous and people of color communities. These investments must be centered on and guided by the impacted communities.  The Equitable Community Initiative commits $100 million in new investments annually starting with Mayor Durkan's 2021 budget proposal to both scale some of the City's current programs and examine additional priority areas for new investments. It will be community that collectively guides the investments.

These investments focused on the Black, Indigenous, and communities of color will be guided by a community-led Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force who will receive the technical assistance of at least 18 City Departments to help make policy and programmatic recommendations to support near and long-term community priorities that ensure that Black, Indigenous, and communities of color can thrive.    

The City suggested initial focus areas for identifying programs and policies, based on ongoing engagement with the community over the last several years including the development of the Equitable Development Monitoring Program which was shaped by deep engagement BIPOC communities. However, the task force had broad latitude to determine whether these focus areas sufficiently cover community needs and can add or remove topics as they see fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

The $100 million is coming from the General Fund, which by nature are flexible resources and in most cases, specific revenues are not dedicated to specific purposes. Many City departments -including Seattle Fire and Seattle Police Department -are also funded by the General Fund. In June, the Mayor asked that the City for the first time ever build a budget around $100 million historic investment in BIPOC communities. The Mayor used all of the City's resources to balance the budget, including: $73millionin emergency funds, $20M in reductions to the Seattle Police Department, other city reductions, a wage freeze for non-represented employees, and new revenue. In addition to $100M in new investments in BIPOC communities, the Mayor's budget also includes $22M in additional COVID relief.The Mayor intends to work with communities to develop a long-term, sustainable, and progressive revenue source for the $100 million.

This is a community-based and community-led process to make recommendations for $100 million in investments based on focus areas prioritized by community.This process engages community to participate in the budget process, however, it is not what is commonly known as participatory budgetingthat the City has conducted in the pastor that is being proposed by community advocates. Also, whatever process is used, it is important to note that final

budget action and awards and contracts must be done according to City and State law. There is an opportunity for the Equitable CommunitiesInitiative Task Force to recommend that the city dedicate some funding to be allocated towards a participatory budgeting pilot.

The City will continue to engage withcommunities on budget priorities and functional changes to SPD. As the task force develops its investment recommendations, they could include recommendations to build capacity in community-based alternatives to certain functions that will be transferred or reduced from SPD. We also anticipate that other community-led research projects will also inform this work. These efforts, along with advocating for changes to State law,are necessary to reimagine our system of community safety.

Councilmember Juarez will participate as an ex-officio member. We look forward to working with Council to ensure the $100 million is allocated expeditiously recognizing our shared values on prioritizing investments in BIPOC communities.

They will be able to make recommendations at a programmatic level. By City Charter, any allocation of city funds -including in a participatory budget process -would require legislation and any contracts of a certain value and types are subject to competitive bid and/or other local and state law contracting requirements.

On September 29, the Mayor transmitted her budget to the City Council that includes an unallocated $100 million to the community task force for recommendations. If the allocation remains through the budget process, it will be the task force that will make recommendations through a community process on how to allocate the $100 million. Once the recommendations are finalized, we anticipate the investments being appropriated in a supplemental budget. Any proposal will undergo additional community input and public process.

Since the Mayor took office she has had hundreds of community meetings, neighborhood tours, round tables and town halls listening to the needs of the community. After the murder of George Floyd, she met with many community groups and leaders and made the pledge to invest $100 million in BIPOC communities through a process that would be community-led. The initial task force is comprised of BIPOC leaders who indicated they wanted to help frame these generational investments and they bring a broad range of professional and lived experiences in economic development, community wellness and safety, workers' rights, youth opportunity, food security, and environmental justice. Some members will bring their perspective of current city programs through their participation in City Advisory committees andcommissions. The task force will also have the ability to add more community members to ensure the most inclusive approach to this work.

Yes, throughout this process it is vital to not only hear from the task force, but the broader BIPOC communities members and organizations. Task force members will develop a plan for community engagement. In addition, additional task force members can be added. Some community members have declined participation through a formal role on the task force, but the task force is committed to community input and recommendations.

Based on past research, the City has suggested four focus areas: Building Opportunity and an Inclusive Economy; Community Wealth Building and Preserving Cultural Spaces; Community Wellness; and ClimateJustice and Green New Deal. But the task force, through community engagement,will determinepriority areas and where investments should be focused to get the desired outcomes. The task force will focus on improving outcomes for BIPOC communities where disparate treatment and impacts are evident. Ideas may be recommended on investments and policy changes, which could include modifications or realignments of current city programs, new pilot programs led by the community or city, current or new projects. This is a community-led process and we look forward to the ideas that will be brought forward.

The Mayor is committed to full transparency but will defer to the task force on the manner in which information is shared with the public, which will be developed in the coming weeks.

The Department of Neighborhoods has issueda Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the facilitation and logistical support of the task force. The Mayor's Cabinet will also be engaged in providing technical assistance support to the task force.

Yes. While task force members will help determine the funding allocated to desired areas and outcomes the task force will not determine the programs that receive funding. Task force members will be apprised of Seattle Ethics and Elections Commissions ethics codes and will pledge to abide by the rules outlined in the City Charter.

Given the historical inequities caused by systemic racism andthe generational harm to our BIPOC communities, we need to address the many current disparities across housing, health, education, criminal legal system, and wealth that disproportionately impacts communities of color, particularly the Black and Indigenous community. The task force will focus on recommendations to change these disparate outcomes with investments that lead to measurable outcomes. The City must complywith the legal principles in the Washington state and federal constitutions andalso Initiative 200 -which was upheld in 2019 -and bans preferential treatment based on race and gender in contracting, education, and employment. Mayor Durkan is committed to finding ways to invest in those communities where we know historic under-investment and systemic racism has led to inequities and where disparate impacts have been documented.