Reparations Commission Update

Eliminate racial disparities in court policies; Create a “Reconciliation Initiative” to address harms; Fund existing Black-owned businesses.

Precis of their review and decisions.

At its October meeting the Asheville & Buncombe County Reparations Commission updated the goals of the five IFAs (Impact Focus Areas).

Panel at the Community Reparations Summit, held on October 4.  Photo: Renato Rotolo/The Urban News
Panel at the Community Reparations Summit, held on October 4. Photo: Renato Rotolo/The Urban News

Criminal Justice IFA

Policing: Black representation in City and County government employment and programs funded by the City and County pertaining to criminal justice.

  • Offer incentives
  • Eliminate racial disparities in court policies & law through training

Training: Mandatory annual periodic or ad-hoc training of public servants in the criminal justice field.

  • Eliminate racial disparities in the courts: increase the number of Black people who participate in existing diversion programs

Funding/Resources: Allocate funding to support Blacks who have been involved in the criminal justice system.

  • Creation of second-chance and low-barrier housing operating with at least 60% black staffing
  • Allocate funding to support Blacks who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Funds to existing re-entry programs operated by entities composed of at least 60% Black staff. Some of this allocation will be used in the expansion and formation of new such programs as well.

School-to-Prison Pipeline: Create and implement culturally competent restorative programs for Black students prior to their becoming involved, and while they are involved, with the justice system.

Accountability: Evaluate, create, and implement policies and procedures that effectively address the racial disparities within the criminal justice system, including working with state and federal legislatures.

Enhance Accountability: Create and implement a transparent reporting system for law enforcement efforts, including events attended in the community, speaking at neighborhood meetings, neighborhoods visited, building relationships, etc.

  • Strengthen recruitment.
  • Allocate funding to pay Black teens a stipend to attend life-skills training and funding to create culturally relevant life-skills training programs. Also funding for separate adult classes.

Economic Development

Black Economic Development Center, Neighborhood Hubs, and Business Corridors

  • Create an Economic Development Center for Black Asheville that is centrally located with commercial space for entrepreneurs, job-training services, financial education, and a financial institution that is designed for and led by Black residents of Asheville and Buncombe County. Supported industries should include restaurants and food trucks, child care, real estate, construction, and legal services.
  • Provide each legacy neighborhood $250k in grants towards their community goals. These would be initial seed funds toward neighborhood priorities. These plans can include small-business incubators and hubs for economic development that are community led.
  • Establish Black business corridors in proximity to Black residential neighborhoods and cultural institutions, rebuilding cohesive communities for Black Asheville.

Grants for Black-owned Businesses:

Fund existing Black-owned businesses with grants of up to $100,000. Black-owned businesses are more likely to be located in predominantly Black neighborhoods that need the infrastructure and businesses. However, Black business owners are still less likely to obtain capital from banks to make their businesses successful. Through review of their capital needs with a Black-owned business services provider (such as the proposed Economic Development Center), businesses can be awarded grants for operating funds, equipment, expansion, or renovation.

Accountability:

  • Track available funding and incentives from federal, state, and local sources that can support economic development in the Black community. Be active in channeling those resources to accomplish the goals of the reparations commission and to support Black-led organizations. Be active in seeking involvement and feedback from Black residents related to Economic Development.
  • Track demographic information to measure activities and impacts related to racial equity in economic development programming and investments.
  • Contract equitably with Black-owned businesses and support effective business development for Black entrepreneurs.
  • The City and County should be model employers for equity in the workplace. City and County staff should ensure equitable pay, advancement, and retention across race and other demographics. Managers and departmental heads should be held accountable to achieve equitable hiring and retention.

Education

Community-based Education: The following recommendations are for community-based out-of-school educational opportunities for Black youth in Asheville and Buncombe County:

  • Community-based Education Center
  • Enrichment Experience
  • Educational International Travel

Black Students in-School Education Programming: The following recommendations are for in-school educational opportunities for Black youth in Asheville and Buncombe County:

  • Curriculum
  • Healing
  • Equity Audit
  • HEED—Help, Educate, Employ, Develop

Black Teacher Retention Promise: Comprehensive Recruitment and Retention Package for Black educators that includes social, financial, professional, and housing support. As well as ongoing competitive wages and mone-tary compensation for all Educators (Early Childhood to Higher Education throughout Buncombe County).

Education Accountability Task Force

Stop the Harm: Disproportionate Suspensions/Expulsions of African American Students from Ashville City/Buncombe County Schools

  • Community Education and Resource Campus
  • Permanent Reparations Accountability Task Force

Health & Wellness

Incorporate payment allocations for years lost.

Fund Black-owned and Black-led health centers and healing spaces, including birthing centers, healing circles, and other entities that support health and healing among Black people.

  • Place health centers close to predominantly African American communities
  • Pair doulas with all African American expectant mothers/birthing people

Fund mental health support and healing for Black residents, including adolescents.

  • Individual payments to use towards mental health and healing collaborative (not competitive) grants to provide mental health support in various settings.
  • Increase number of Black mental health providers of all kinds through fellowships and financial incentives

Hold entities/institutions accountable for anti-Black discrimination in health care.

  • Create a local workgroup of African American medical practitioners, scholars, and medical/public health professionals to evaluate questionable medical practices and form recommendations to address and repair harms (inclusive of directing audit activities)
  • Require county/city to collect data by race/ethnicity for all healthcare services and process, policies, and programs administered
  • Utilize city/county leverage to incentivize healthcare entities (Community Health Clinics, hospitals, etc.) to take action

Mandate requirements to receive/apply for city/county funding (e.g., must have staff training that meets standards, and have policies and infrastructure to repair harm and address racist actions by providers and other staff). Create a community-led coalition to monitor corrective actions (or partner with entities like the Racial Justice Coalition to assist with oversight).

Create a “Reconciliation Initiative” to address harms and create a healing process for Reparations Commission members and others.

Housing

Plan and Develop complete communities on reparations land, i.e., Black-owned business:

  • Create a land-acquisition program for future development beyond urban renewal
  • Create a new dollar lot program where parcels of reparations land are set aside for a bid process for aspiring Black homeowners for a bid process
  • Acquire the South Charlotte Street corridor City-owned property for mixed-use and mixed-income community development.

Black Homeownership Financial Literacy and Action Campaign: Educate and set in motion a massive campaign to get every resident/interested parties of public housing (in or out of public housing) into homeownership using their Housing Choice Vouchers to pay mortgages on homes they own; or to rent homes from Black homeowners and developers.

  • Include financial literacy and entrance into the housing authority’s self-sufficiency program and provide a reparations financial commitment match to that fund to those who finish the program and purchase a home. More financial matches should be given to those who buy homes from those who are Black-owned or a part of a fully planned Black community.
  • Address the needs of seniors (health and safety). Affordable and fair housing. Home repairs for elderly to age in place.