Principles for a Common-Sense, Street-Smart Recovery (Complete Set)


From Hurricane Katrina to the 2008 financial collapse, we have seen how recovery efforts that do not deliberately solve for issues facing low-income communities and communities of color only serve to reinforce existing disparities. As we navigate our way through the COVID-19 crisis, we need a Common-sense, Street-smart Recovery to build an inclusive economy and equitable nation that works for all. To realize the promise of equity, leaders must be dedicated to the complete set of principles - listed below - and outlined in this document.

Center Racial Equity


As the current public health and economic crisis continues to impact people around the world, we now know that across the United States, people of color are bearing the brunt of the effects of COVID-19.  Ensuring all people live in a society where they can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential requires recognizing that the path to getting there is different for different groups. Intentional investments in the 100 million economically insecure people in the United States, particularly for those who are people of color, will have benefits that cascade out, improving the lives of all struggling people as well as regional economies and the nation as a whole. We cannot simply tinker around the edges of systems that were never intended to serve all people. In order to center racial equity, policymakers must: 

  • Collect and use disaggregated data.
  • Plan for the most vulnerable.
  • Implement race-conscious approaches to counter persistent racial inequities.

Put People First


During the last recession, corporations received massive bailouts while continuing with risky practices that undermined the strength of the economy, making us unprepared for the current shock from COVID019. Congress has started down this path once again, creating a half trillion-dollar fund to bail out corporations while millions of people are out of work. 

While initial legislative survival packages included modest stimulus checks and unemployment benefits to individuals, economists and struggling people alike have pointed out the immediate need to get more cash into people’s hands to stave off the crisis. Unless we put people first, the relief and recovery packages coming from Congress will only further concentrate wealth at the top and deepen inequities. In order to put people first, policymakers must: 

  • Support essential frontline workers.
  • Guarantee incomes.
  • Freeze costs and protect people from losses.
  • Prioritize people over corporations.

Invest in Community Infrastructure


For an equitable and lasting recovery from the coronavirus crisis, we must rebuild our physical infrastructure—food systems, water, housing, transit, and roads—as well as our social infrastructure—the trusted network of nonprofit, cultural, philanthropic, and local institutions that help our communities function. Both types of community-building infrastructure will play a critical role in helping communities recover and thrive. Resourcing this infrastructure sufficiently is critical, and investments must be made with an equity lens, prioritizing programs and policies that focus on those most impacted by COVID-19.

Now is the time to ensure that all people—regardless of race, income, or zip code—live in healthy communities of opportunity. This requires the following policy and investment actions: 

  • Fortify community-based organizations. 
  • Provide financial support for state and local governments.
  • Invest in physical infrastructure in high-need communities.

Build an Equitable Economy


In addition to exposing our extreme inequality, the pandemic has also revealed our interconnectedness: we are only as safe as the least protected among us. In a diversifying country, dismantling structural racism and ensuring economic security for all is the right thing to do and the necessary thing to do.

We need sustained and race-conscious policies and investments to stabilize people during the crisis and bridge to a more equitable future. To build an equitable economy, policymakers must: 

  • Ensure economic security during the crisis.
  • Use stimulus funds to build the next economy.
  • Forge a new social contract that enables shared prosperity. 

Protect and Expand Community Voice and Power


Generations of policies and practices—such as breached treaties, voter suppression, erosion of workers’ right to organize, and mass criminalization—have excluded vulnerable people from decision-making, resulting in government systems that don’t meet the needs of the people they purport to serve. This is not only a moral concern, but also a social, cultural, and economic liability. When entire populations are unable to fully participate in society, the enormous loss of potential affects the whole nation. 

With the coronavirus thrusting the country into a public health and economic crisis, our racial and structural inequities have become even more pronounced. To foster greater inclusion and self-determination, federal policymakers must: 

  • Center community voice in policymaking and spending. 
  • Protect the right to vote and increase access to the ballot box. 
  • Remove barriers to organizing and include labor unions in pandemic response planning. 

Federal Policy Priorities for an Equitable COVID-19 Relief and Recovery


While Congress has taken some important initial steps, the relief packages so far have not done enough to address the challenges facing the one in three people living in or near poverty in the US. This brief, “Federal Policy Priorities for an Equitable COVID-19 Relief and Recovery,” outlines a number of specific policy recommendations for Congress to include in the next relief package to meet the needs of all people while building a bridge to a more equitable and climate-safe future.

Our op-ed on a federal job guarantee (NYTimes), authored by Angela Glover Blackwell and Darrick Hamilton, outlines how a public option for a job with living wages and full benefits can help households while addressing long-neglected community needs. This is the sort of bold action we need Congress to take to ensure an inclusive recovery and a more resilient future economy.

Download the report for additional policy priorities that must be part of the next COVID-19 relief package.

Roadmap to Equitable Fine and Fee Reform


Fines and fees have devastated the lives of millions of Americans, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and punishment — with the harms overwhelmingly falling on people of color and people living on low incomes. State and local governments can support residents by eliminating fines and fees, and by creating sustainable ways to balance their budgets that don’t put the burden on residents. 

The Roadmap to Equitable Fine and Fee Reform shares approaches and practices to advance fine and fee reform. This guide is a distillation of the curriculum provided through the Cities & Counties for Fine and Fee Justice national network, and shares insights and direction for anyone interested in fine and fee reform, particularly leaders in cities and counties who are eager to address the widespread challenges presented by excessive fines and fees in their jurisdictions.

Healing Together: Shifting Approaches to End Intimate Partner Violence


When our relationships are safe and healthy, so are our communities. This California-focused policy paper discusses approaches to ending intimate partner violence and includes policy recommendations that focus on healing, gender justice, and racial equity — instead of punishment — to build safe and accountable communities.

Intimate partner violence is a frightening reality for millions of Californians and a public health crisis that especially affects Black, Native American, and bisexual women and transgender people. For decades, women in the anti-violence movement have led the critical work of meeting the immediate safety needs of survivors — saving countless lives. As we build on these efforts to end partner violence, we must do more to address the root causes of violence and the need for healing for all — including those who have caused harm. Read the policy paper and the summary, and join the campaign, funded with the generous support of Blue Shield of California Foundation. 

Advancing Frontline Employees of Color: Innovating for Competitive Advantage in America's Frontline Workforce


Advancing Frontline Employees of Color: Innovating for Competitive Advantage in America's Frontline Workforce is a resource and call to action for employers to support the advancement of frontline employees of color. The information in the report can also be a useful tool for those advocating for opportunity for all. The report reveals how companies that are successful in advancing racial equity go beyond traditional diversity and inclusion efforts by shifting their management and HR practices and transforming their company cultures. These companies implement evidence-based practices and policies that fall under three strategic opportunity areas: 1) building internal capacity for an inclusive, understanding, and adaptive culture; 2) strengthening management and HR systems, policies, and practices; and 3) intentionally investing in the development of frontline employees of color.

Download Advancing Frontline Employees of Color Executive Summary

Fair Labor Practices Benefit All New Mexican Families


New Mexican families rely on steady paychecks for groceries, childcare, transportation, and housing costs — spending that goes back to the community. So when employers refuse to pay workers their earned wages, everyone suffers. The New Mexico Worker Organizing Collaborative (NMWOC) works to combat these employer thefts to ensure that workers have a fair shot at economic security. In partnership with NMWOC, the National Equity Atlas co-produced a fact sheet that leverages local and National Equity Atlas data to illuminate those who are disproportionately vulnerable to employer theft and the need for the state to better investigate and enforce wage theft claims. This community data tool will support NMWOC in their advocacy to protect workers and take back lost wages. Download Fair Labor Practices Benefit All New Mexicans.

Solving the Housing Crisis Is Key to Inclusive Prosperity in the Bay Area


This report presents new data illustrating how the combination of rising rents and stagnant incomes is straining household budgets and stifling opportunity for all but the very wealthy in the nine-county Bay Area, raising serious questions about the sustainability of the region’s economy. The report was developed as part of the Bay Area Equity Atlas partnership between PolicyLink, the San Francisco Foundation, and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California (PERE). Key findings include:

  • Between 2000 and 2016, rents increased 24 percent while renter incomes rose just 9 percent.
  • There are 480,000 economically insecure renter households in the region that are paying $9,000 too much for housing per year, on average.
  • A family of two full-time workers each making $15/hour can only afford market rent in 5 percent of Bay Area neighborhoods.
  • 92 percent of these neighborhoods affordable to working-class families are rated "very low opportunity" on a comprehensive index of neighborhood opportunity. 

How are people using this data? The analyses in this report served as the basis for factsheets and maps developed with Working Partnerships, Urban Habitat, and EBASE to support their tenant protection policy campaigns. The Bay Area Economic Council used this data in their report analyzing policy solutions to the housing crisis in Alameda County. KQED Forum host Michael Krasny used it to open up his conversation with housing activist Randy Shaw about his book Generation Priced Out. The Partnership for the Bay's Future used our data to frame the need for investment in housing solutions.

Media mentions: Housing Is Key to Bay Area's Economic Future, Study Finds (Philanthropy News Digest), New Report Examines the Bay Area's Broken Housing Market (Planetizen), World Journal

Building an Inclusive Health Workforce in California: A Statewide Policy Agenda


An equitable and inclusive health-care workforce in California—one that reflects the state’s racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity and offers all Californians a chance at a meaningful job—is not only a moral obligation but also an urgent economic imperative. Increasing diversity in the health sector will also be critical for improving health and eliminating racial inequities through the provision of culturally appropriate services for all communities. As the demand for health-care workers continues to increase nationally, this trend plays out significantly in California, a state that employs over 1.3 million health workers and is projected to need an additional 450,000 by 2020. However, longstanding structural inequities in education, workforce training, and employment access create serious barriers that prevent many Californians, particularly people of color, from benefiting from the emerging training and job opportunities. This report explores the powerful trends driving demand for health-care workers, the key equity challenges to filling these gaps; and a robust set of strategies and specific policies that state leaders can undertake to foster a more inclusive health workforce.

When Renters Rise, Cities Thrive: National and City Fact Sheets


Renters now represent the majority in the nation’s 100 largest cities, and contribute billions to local economies. Yet renters face a toxic mix of rising rents and stagnant wages, both of which add up to an unprecedented affordability crisis that stymies their ability to contribute to the broader economy and thrive. This analysis, produced in support of the Renter Week of Action occurring September 16-24, reveals what renters and the nation stand to gain from addressing this crisis. We find that nationwide, if renters paid only what was affordable for housing, they would have $124 billion extra to spend in the community every year, or $6,200 per rent-burdened household. Download the national fact sheet and press release.

You can also download fact sheets for the following cities: Alameda, Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Bowling Green (KY), Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Durham, El Paso, Jackson, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Lynn (MA), Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Newark, New YorkOakland, Philadelphia, PittsburghPortland, Providence, RenoRochester, San Diego, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Seattle, Spokane, Springfield (MA), St. Paul, Washington DC.