Equitable Development as a Tool to Advance Racial Equity

A Framework for Advancing Equitable Development

A Framework for Advancing Equitable Development

An Equitable Development Framework integrates people and place to create strong communities and people, as well as great places with equitable access. The Framework, with its equity drivers and outcomes, functions as an analytical tool to guide implementation to reduce disparities and achieve equitable outcomes for marginalized populations. The equity drivers build on the Puget Sound Regional Equity Network’s Principles of Equitable Development; local context may influence specific aspects of some of the elements as you work in your own community.

  1. Advance economic opportunity. Promote local economic development and entrepreneur opportunities, enhance community-serving establishments, and increase quality living wage jobs for people in all neighborhoods.
  2. Prevent displacement. Develop policies and programs that allow anyone who wants to live in the community to do so, especially current residents, and discourage displacement of viable small businesses that serve community needs.
  3. Preserve and expand affordable housing options. Create healthy, safe, and affordable housing for all family sizes and incomes in all neighborhoods.
  4. Understand and respond to local context. Respect local community character, cultural diversity, and values. Preserve and strengthen intact neighborhoods, building upon their local assets and resources.
  5. Promote broader mobility and connectivity. Prioritize an effective and affordable public transportation network that supports transit-dependent communities and provides equitable access to core services and amenities, including employment, education, and health and social services.
  6. Practice meaningful community engagement. Require local community participation and leadership in decision-making to reflect a diversity of voices, including targeted strategies to engage historically marginalized communities. Build cultural competence and responsiveness among all stakeholders, and structure planning processes to be clear, accessible and engaging.
  7. Develop healthy and safe communities. Create built environments that enhance community health through public amenities (schools, parks, open spaces, complete streets, health care, and other services), access to affordable healthy food, improved air quality, and safe and inviting environments.
  8. Promote environmental justice. Eliminate disproportionate environmental burdens and ensure an equitable share of environmental benefits for existing communities. Secure resources to mitigate and reverse the effects of environmental hazards past and present. Please note: In this Resource Guide, we include some data from reports that focused on whites and African Americans, but otherwise, provide data for all racial groups analyzed in the research. For consistency, we refer to African Americans and Latinos, although in some of the original research, these groups were referred to as Blacks and Hispanics. Government Alliance on Race and Equity REPORT Equitable Development as a Tool to Advance Racial Equity 7
  9. Achieve full accessibility. Ensure any development that results from investments in the built environment is accessible and welcoming to people regardless of age, physical condition, or language. 

These drivers are not designed to be deployed independently; their inter-relationship is fundamental to undoing the structural racism perpetuating current disparities. If implemented piecemeal or in isolation, they will result in transactional wins that do not produce lasting change. The Equitable Development Framework presents an integrated fabric of strategies to close racial disparities. Used together, these drivers have the potential to transform systems and shift from the current trajectory of growth that marginalizes many populations and compromises the diversity that makes communities strong.

The Importance of Data

Data is another way to understand equitable development. A growing cannon of research2 has identified measures that show racial disparities in outcomes related to growth. Policy and investments can be oriented toward eliminating these disparities. A few measurement frameworks and assessment tools are listed in the effective practices that follow. However, communities most impacted by growth are best positioned to collect more meaningful data through community-based research. 

Measurable outcomes tracked over time with disaggregated data, reported on, and tied to performance can be an effective accountability strategy for improving government function to achieve equitable outcomes.

Several chronic racial and ethnic inequities resulting from lack of access to opportunity, including

  • life expectancy
  • substandard housing conditions
  • commute times, proximity to public transit, and transportation costs
  • unemployment, poverty, wealth, and income
  • proximity to public open space and healthy affordable food, rates of obesity and high blood pressure
  • proximity to environmental hazards and rates of asthma

Racial inequities related to or resulting from displacement include:

  • severe housing cost burden and rates of homeownership
  • overcrowding, evictions, and homelessness
  • stress and anxiety
  • disruption to health care, medications, and social services
  • disruptions to school attendance and performance
  • loss of social supports and increased social isolation
  • financial distress, loss of wealth and assets
  • relocation to neighborhoods with fewer health-promoting resources and amenities
  • segregation and discrimination in the housing market
  • 2. Pastor, 200X, PolicyLink and USC PERE 201X, National Equity Atlas