BOSTON (SHNS) – Massachusetts elected officials must have a ‘road map’ in place and address the underlying causes of inequality if they are to want a historic infusion of federal funds to help close the racial wealth gaps in the country. state, community leaders and social justice advocates said Wednesday.
Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to spend $ 2.9 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds includes hundreds of millions of dollars to promote homeownership, a step his team believes could help communities of color to create wealth and access historically inaccessible resources. Several speakers at an economic roundtable on Wednesday praised Baker’s homeownership proposal, including NAACP Boston Branch President Tanisha Sullivan, while calling on lawmakers to be vigilant. that non-white voices are involved in the decision-making process.
Bishop Talbert Swan II, who heads the Springfield Church of God in Christ and is president of the Springfield NAACP branch, told the event that the large wealth gap between black and white residents “stems from centuries of policies that have systematically disadvantaged black communities “.
“Effective policies, whether individual or in combination, must be far-reaching to meet the challenge of closing the wealth gap between blacks and whites,” said Talbert. “If we just spend a lot of money but don’t institute policies that will change what created this situation, when that money dries up, we end up in the same situation we were in, to begin with. We need policies that will eventually eliminate the wealth disparity and provide tangible assets and debt relief to black and brown communities. ”
Ideas launched during Wednesday’s discussion include using ARPA funding on student loan relief to ease the burden borrowers face and providing universal broadband access. The House and Senate launched a series of hearings last month that officials say will shed light on the eventual allocation of the roughly $ 5 billion in ARPA funds that the legislature swept into a savings account.
Representative Bud Williams, a Democrat from Springfield who hosted the virtual event, said advocates “inundated” lawmakers with proposals on how to spend the money. The black and Latin legislative caucus, he said, wants to spend $ 1 billion directly to support black and brown communities in Massachusetts.