APAH’s Commitment to Racial Equity
Statement on Racial Equity
Adopted by the APAH Board of Directors on June 16, 2021
After several months of discussion, learning and listening, the APAH board and staff are eager to share the following racial equity statement, which has been drafted to ground and guide us as we seek to embed racial equity into all that we do. The statement was endorsed unanimously by APAH’s Board of Directors on June 16, 2021. At the same meeting, the board also unanimously approved adding “Racial Equity” as a seventh APAH value and establishing the Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee as a standing committee of the APAH Board.
We recognize that this is one step on our journey to more effectively move the needle on structural racism and inequality in our country, and in the housing sector specifically. We share our statement below and, for transparency and accountability, will periodically provide updates of our work on the APAH website.
Chair, APAH Board of Directors, 2021
Our Vision for Racial Equity
We acknowledge the history of racial injustice in our country and the specific impact that racial discrimination and structural racism has had on the housing industry. The legacy of redlining, discriminatory financial practices and disinvestment continue to have an impact on communities of color, particularly for African Americans.
We believe that everyone has a right to housing and having a safe place to call home. Housing is a platform for stability, community connection and economic opportunity, and for too long the benefits afforded by stable housing have been extended inequitably. As real estate developers, service providers and affordable housing advocates, we strive to approach our work with an anti-racist lens in order to contribute to the creation of a more equitable and inclusive community for all.
The work of racial equity is never done, but at APAH we commit to deepening our focus and strengthening our actions to pursue racial justice and promote equity.
Racial Equity Workplan Update – December 2022
In the spirit of transparency and accountability, APAH has made the actions we have taken to support our REDI work public. Regular updates can be found here, so please check our progress periodically.
June 2021: APAH board adopts a vision for racial equity, adds “Racial Equity” as an APAH Value and establishes the Racial Equity Committee as a permanent committee of the Board of Directors.
July 2021: Staff issued a short racial equity survey to 20+ key real estate vendors and partners to establish baseline understanding of how many Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises are supported through our projects and to gain a broader understanding of our partners’ commitments to racial equity.
October 2021: Staff celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month together, and participated in a full staff discussion prompted by Carmen’s September eNews piece about her family and background.
November 2021: The resident services team solicited applications from residents interested in participating in a portfolio-wide resident council.
December 2021: Completed APAH’s 2022 Budget which includes dedicated funds for racial equity initiatives, such as a pilot individual development account (IDA) opportunity for residents, paid Resident Council positions for residents, paid internships for students historically underrepresented in the real estate field and enhanced staff training and consultant support.
February 2022: In honor of Black History Month, APAH staff watched the documentary “Who We Are: a Chronicle of Racism in America” together followed by a facilitated discussion.
March 2022: APAH Residents were invited to a book signing event with local authors Nadia and Arrington Conyers featuring their children’s book called “From Lee Highway to Langston Blvd.”
May 2022: After piloting a short racial equity and demographic questionnaire to key vendors in July and analyzing the results, staff refined the form and distributed to a wider group of APAH vendors. The questionnaire has been incorporated into APAH’s RFP process as well.
In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, APAH staff joined in-person to hear a panel discussion with staff and board members and to share a meal, supporting a new Asian owned restaurant, All Rice Thai.
June 2022: APAH kicked off work with a consulting firm to assess our existing workplace and human resources policies with a diversity, equity and inclusion lens. The engagement will end with a DEI plan for moving forward.
Staff gathered for a Juneteenth celebration, selecting local Black-owned businesses for catering and raffles prizes. Staff celebrated Pride month together by watching a short documentary about the history of the Stonewall Riots followed by a large group discussion.
August 2022: Staff celebrated Women’s Equality Day with a donation drive of diapers, baby items and feminine hygiene products for APAH residents. September 2022: Kick off of APAH Latino College Access Club in partnership with the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN)
October 2022: Staff celebrated Hispanic Heritage month with a few events including an all-staff conversation with Karen Vallejos-Corrales, Executive Director of the Dream Project, an all-staff lunch catered by Café Sazon and a raffle featuring prizes purchased by Latinx owned businesses.
October 2022: Staff and Board met to discuss the missing middle debate in Arlington and the book Dream Hoarders.
November 2022: All staff and board members reviewed and discussed the results of the DEI assessment, further defining key next steps including incorporation into APAH next strategic plan.
December 2022: APAH signed on to the Housing Partnership Network’s Equity Pledge, a commitment that bring additional accountability for incorporating racial equity into all facets of APAH’s work, but that also brings new resources and peer learning opportunities for the APAH staff team.
We are proud of the commitment that our entire staff team has shown to advancing racial equity in all areas of our work. Other efforts in the past 2 years include the following:
ACTIONS IN SERVICES FOR RESIDENTS
- Expanded the size of the resident services team and ensuring that enough members of the team can communicate with residents in their native languages.
- Transitioned to a new, more sophisticated resident services database, enhancing our tools to disaggregate outcomes for our residents by race and ethnicity.
- Hosted 10 vaccine clinics in 2021, supporting reliable, convenient and equitable access to vaccines for APAH residents.
- Members of the real estate development team have hosted design charettes with APAH seniors to inform design features in upcoming senior properties.
ACTIONS IN OPERATIONS
- Actively recruited a more diverse board and staff, including welcoming Carmen Romero as President and CEO and colleagues with lived experience with affordable housing and homelessness.
- Updated internal procedures to include discussion of APAH’s commitment to racial equity during the interview process and to include education about racial equity during the first two weeks of onboarding for new staff.
- Promoted a culture of ongoing learning and discernment about history and racial justice to inform our work, including staff and board discussions about 400 Souls, Juneteenth, fair housing, the Dream Project, the Missing Middle, and the book Dream Hoarders.
- Continued to ensure a living wage is paid to not only all APAH staff, but also all staff who work at APAH properties, employed directly by our property management company or with our major vendors.
- Created an editorial calendar of holidays and observations to raise and highlight the diversity of our community, staff, and residents.
These objectives and actions all support of our overarching Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) Goals:
- Create a comprehensive and authentic commitment to promote racial justice through APAH’s work.
- Embed inclusion into the APAH culture.
- Create measurable opportunities to improve the lives of Black, Indigenous and People of Color among our staff, residents, business partners and communities.