On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 13985, advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government.
The order directed every agency in the federal government to advance a racial equity and justice action plan.
Today, more than 90 federal agencies, including all cabinet-level agencies, are releasing their first action plans, outlining more than 300 concrete strategies and commitments to address the systemic barriers in federal policies and programs that hold underserved people and communities back.
The action plans are designed to help people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, Tribal and rural communities, people with disabilities, women and girls, and communities impacted by persistent poverty.
“Advancing racial equity is not a one-year project, it’s a generational commitment,” Biden said in a statement Thursday provided to BLACK ENTERPRISE. “These plans are an important step forward reflecting the Biden-Harris administration’s work to make the promise of America real for every person.”
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will work to close the racial homeownership gap, reduce bias in in-home appraisals, and address the disproportionate rates and increase of homelessness in underserved communities and cities nationwide.
“HUDs equity action plan puts eliminating the racial homeownership gap front and center,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said. “This plan gets to the heart of where someone lives and what someone looks like impacting their prosperity and wealth, because the fact is that Black people and Latino people lose billions of dollars in equity and wealth just for being Black and Brown.”
The Environmental Protection Agency will design a comprehensive framework to evaluate the health and economic impacts of pollution on underserved and low-income communities. The EPA will also enforce civil rights laws to ensure environmental justice is at the heart of the agency’s mission.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack admitted his agency has discriminated against and denied opportunities for Black and minority farmers for far too long. The agency has established an equity commission co-chaired by Dr. Jewel Bernal, the first African American Deputy at the USDA, and Arturo Rodriguez, former United Farm Workers Union president, to improve racial equity at the agency.
“The 15-member commission will take a very specific and a very deep look at USDA in an effort to try to determine what systemic barriers still exist with reference to our programs, and the availability of those programs, and make recommendations to root out those systemic barriers that do exist,” Vilsack said
The Department of Transportation will increase investment in underserved communities by launching a national technical assistance center to provide targeted support through project development, grant applications, and project delivery for communities facing barriers to transportation resources.
Other agencies with comprehensive plans for racial equity include the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, and the Department of Defense.