The push from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council to invest $100 million in communities of color is inching forward, as a task force convened by Durkan has issued recommendations for how a portion of that money should be spent.
The 26-member task force has met more than two dozen times over the past six months, Durkan’s office said. Their meetings have been closed to the public, although minutes of the meetings have been published.
The group Thursday recommended four broad “pillars” of spending those funds on small business support, education, affordable housing and health.
The mayor’s office said it would release legislation in the coming weeks spelling out, in further detail, the recommendations of the task force.
“Members of the Task Force, community leaders representing diverse communities, were brought together to address systemic challenges and negative investment outcomes facing communities of color,” the task force said in a news release. “The work will take time, effort, strategic planning, community building, and deep continued investment to undo years of discriminatory practices that have plagued these communities and served as barriers to reaching equity.”
Durkan announced the concept of the task force in September. The recommendations will likely guide $30 million in spending and programs, a portion of the $100 million Durkan pledged last summer amid widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Another nearly $30 million is slated for projects residents will vote on in a new “participatory budgeting” system, championed by the City Council; $30 million to restore a fund (that Durkan had eliminated) for anti-displacement real estate projects; and $10 million for community safety endeavors.
The City Council this week approved $1 million to guide the participatory budgeting process. The City Council previously, over Durkan’s objections, awarded a $3 million contract to research alternatives to policing and ways to conduct participatory budgeting. And Durkan’s office previously hired an outside consultant for $200,000 to guide the task force’s meetings.
The task force’s public recommendations, after months of meetings, remain broad.
It recommended investing in small businesses owned by people of color and targeting “systemic discriminatory practices,” including denial of access to capital and high-risk or predatory financial products.
It recommended education investments targeting youth of color and people who have been previously incarcerated. Investments should address “the lack of culturally competent academic support” and use culturally relevant curricula.
The task force recommended a “lease to purchase homebuyer program” and an apprenticeship program targeted at Black and Indigenous communities affected by gentrification.
It recommended food access programs to address food deserts, workforce development to produce more health care providers of color and “culturally responsive and inclusive healthcare.”
Task force members included nonprofit, religious, labor and community leaders.