June 2020 Newsletter

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Health and Housing Equity Connection

Gilvar Consulting Services Newsletter

June 2020

This month’s topic: How Did We Become White and Other Questions for White Leaders Seeking Real Change for Racial Equity

During the current groundswell of anti-racism advocacy precipitated by George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officers, my day-to-day work has mostly involved providing technical assistance to homeless services systems around the country.  This work has included guidance related to combating the vast over-representation of black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) within the homeless population in every state in the union.  It has also entailed discussions of the systemic causes behind the much higher BIPOC mortality rate from COVID-19.  Considering the intersection of the heightened risk of BIPOC for a wide array of the chronic diseases that can lead to dangerous COVID complications and the greater vulnerability of BIPOC to living doubled up or homeless provides a vantage point from which the impact of systemic racism comes into clearer focus.

While this work has been satisfying, it has also left me wanting to dive more deeply into exploring the potential for white leaders to step up to the plate at this unique juncture in our national history.  While I respect and support statements of solidarity, I’m more interested in how white communities can put their full weight behind efforts to bring about deep and wide policy reform for greater racial equity and justice.  This month’s Gilvar Consulting Services newsletter is devoted to an essay on that topic.

Other Articles

City of Dallas Equity Assessment of Affordable Housing Policies

Along with colleagues Christine Campbell and Michele Williams, John conducted a racial equity assessment of the City of Dallas’s affordable housing policies.  The assessment relied on extensive community input and culminated in a presentation of 11 recommendations for change to the Dallas City Council.  The findings and recommendations are summarized in this final report.  Recommendations start on page 8, following the executive summary.

Accelerating Organizational Anti-Racism Work with Adaptive Leadership and Mindful Communication Practices

Transformational change at an organizational or systems level requires both deep listening and the willingness of leaders possessing decision-making authority to collaborate with those most directly impacted by the problems necessitating change. Few leaders I know would dispute this premise in the abstract, but many might struggle to explain in concrete terms how they walk the walk as well as they talk the talk. Moving organizations and communities from words to action around redressing institutionalized racism requires leaders not only to put listening and collaboration skills to the test, but to leap beyond the comfort zone of routine approaches to problem solving. Adaptive leadership and mindful communication practices can provide an excellent platform from which to dive into the deep water of acknowledging racism and other structural forms of oppression as powerful drivers of inequities in the areas of health, housing, and economic advancement.

Cross-silo Partnerships Boldly Tackling Inequities in the Midst of the Pandemic

New COVID-19 hospitalization data shine a stark light on the connection between homelessness and poor health.  The Minnesota Department of Health found that people residing in homeless shelters who were diagnosed with COVID-19 were 4 times more likely to be hospitalized and 3 times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) than the overall population of Minnesota residents with a COVID+ diagnosis.  The hospitalization and ICU rates for people living unsheltered were even worse:  almost 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 7 times more likely to receive treatment in an ICU.