Mayor’s Office

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Eight-Point Plan to Protect BIPOC Communities and Ensure a Racially Just Recovery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
June 5, 2020 
Contact: Olivia LaVecchia 
                (802) 734-0617 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Eight-Point Plan to Protect BIPOC Communities and Ensure a Racially Just Recovery 

 

Burlington, VT – This week, Mayor Miro Weinberger and Tyeastia Green, the City’s Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging, announced an eight-point plan to protect black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities and ensure a racially just recovery from the coronavirus. The full plan is summarized below. 

“As a result of generations of structural racism, black Americans are dying at nearly two and a half times the rate of whites in this pandemic,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Until the pandemic ends, we must do all we can to protect our BIPOC communities from the virus, ensure that our relief and recovery efforts get these communities the emergency resources they need, and work for a future in which black lives no longer face such exceptional and disparate risks. I am grateful to the City’s first director of Racial Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging, Tyeastia Green, for jumping right in and leading this work.” 

“We are living through a chapter of history that will be studied by our grandchildren, and how we respond to what’s happening now will undoubtedly be under a microscope for years to come,” said Tyeastia Green, the City’s Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging. “Burlington will be on the right side of history. This is our moment to break down those structures of racial inequality that we’ve all gotten too comfortable with. We are taking actionable steps to weed out any structure, process, policy, or institution that is inherently racist, whether intentionally or not.” 

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Eight-Point Plan to Protect BIPOC Communities and Ensure a Racially Just Recovery 

The City of Burlington’s response to the coronavirus must include deliberate steps to protect those who are medically vulnerable, as well as those who have experienced systemic inequalities based on socioeconomic status, historical injustice, and race and ethnicity. To ensure that, this eight point plan is the framework that will guide Burlington’s efforts throughout this emergency.1 Each area incorporates work that the City has already begun in its response to the coronavirus, as well as a vision for future work in these areas. Along with this plan, the City also is forming a Racial Equity Rapid Response Team to guide this work and ensure that it is responsive to the needs of the communities it is intended to support. 

  1. 1. Support robust efforts to “Box In” the virus 

By working to “box in” the virus through the strategies of testing, isolation, tracing, and quarantine, we can continue to limit the spread of the coronavirus in Burlington – which in turn keeps our entire community safe. This is particularly true for the members of our community most impacted by the virus, including those who are people of color, work in front-line jobs, have underlying health conditions, or are seniors. This is why the City of Burlington has worked with the State of Vermont, the University of Vermont, and Champlain College to develop a local version of the “Box It In” plan, and why the City has launched the Supportive Quarantine Pilot Program to help ensure that people returning to town, including students, have the information and supports that they need to quarantine safely. 

  1. 2. Track data on COVID-19 cases by race, ethnicity, and geography 

By tracking disaggregated data, we can better understand which groups are most affected and inform our decisions about where to invest resources such as testing, personal protective equipment, and social services. We are working with the Vermont Department of Health to expand the publicly available disaggregated race data for Burlington and Chittenden County, and will highlight this data on the City’s COVID-19 dashboard

  1. 3. Communicate and build trust with communities of color 

We need to ensure that information about the pandemic is reaching BIPOC communities, and hear from them about the impacts. To address this need, in April, the City launched the Trusted Community Voices program to employ individuals who will help us improve two-way communications with immigrant and refugee communities in Burlington – through the COVID-19 emergency and beyond. Additionally, we will soon be announcing a new Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, made up of City staff and community members, to help us build stronger communications with all communities of color for the remainder of this emergency. 

  1. 4. Enhance access to testing and health care 

BIPOC communities are historically less likely to get referrals for testing, and more likely to mistrust institutions due to discriminatory experiences. We are working with the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) and Community Health Centers of Burlington (CHCB) to ensure that BIPOC individuals have the access to health care that they need during this crisis. This includes working with CHCB to evaluate the capacity of its mobile testing unit and a possible expansion, helping to translate and disseminate information about health, and working with BIPOC communities to emphasize preventative healthcare.  We also will work with medical partners to root out structural racism in the medical profession to ensure that BIPOC communities receive equitable medical and public health care going forward.  

  1. 5. Protect essential and low-wage workers 

Individuals from BIPOC communities are more likely to work in jobs that are considered essential or pay lower wages. The City has been working from the first weeks of this pandemic to provide masks and other supplies to essential workers, and is considering other ways to encourage sick leave and testing policies. Already, through the BTV Community Mask Initiative, the City worked to produce and distribute more than 20,000 free, high-quality masks. These masks were first available to any essential worker in Burlington who requested one for themselves or on behalf of their organization, and the City distributed masks to more than 80 organizations, including grocery stores, health care providers, and non-profit housing agencies. The City also procured and distributed over 100 touchless thermometers to essential organizations early in the crisis when these items were difficult to secure to keep those facilities and their workers safe. 

  1. 6. Provide social services to keep vulnerable groups safe 

The members of our community who are most impacted by the coronavirus include BIPOC individuals, immigrants, seniors, and those with low incomes who may not be able to practice physical distancing. The City can support these groups with access to food, shelter, transportation, and medical care. This component of the plan includes several key areas: 

Food security – Many in our community are experiencing food insecurity right now. Organizations in Burlington are working to meet this need, including the Burlington School Food Project, Feeding Chittenden, and Age Well’s Meals on Wheels program. The City has also launched several initiatives to supplement these efforts, including the Burlington Food Relief Program to organize local restaurants to cook 750 meals per week for local non-profits, and Plant for the People to collect 100,000 pounds of additional produce as a community this growing season for our local food shelf.  

Housing – The City is dedicating half of its federal CDBG-Coronavirus allocation to provide rent relief for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families who have been impacted by the coronavirus. 

Education and job training – The City is at work developing initiatives to help ensure that BIPOC students aren’t left behind during this crisis, and to help BIPOC community members train for higher-paying jobs. 

Childcare – The City’s Early Learning Initiative focuses on increasing the availability and affordability of childcare. At the end of May, the City re-launched the applications for the second year of the initiative’s scholarship program. 

Transportation – We continue to work to evaluate how the City can help ensure that public transportation is safe and available during this pandemic. 

  1. 7. Ensure communities of color have access to and receive targeted, equitable share of economic relief and recovery resources 

BIPOC entrepreneurs have fewer financial resources to start or sustain a business, and BIPOC communities need assistance with the economic disruption of COVID-19. These efforts are ongoing and continue to be developed, but include the Resource & Recovery Center’s work to help unbanked businesses access federal grant and loan programs, the rent relief program discussed above, and other initiatives. 

  1. 8. Identify structural progress that we can achieve with the emergency response 

We are working to make sure that Burlington not only emerges from this pandemic, but does so as an even stronger and more just community. In this category, the City is working on initiatives that include progress toward the long-held goal of creating a year-round low-barrier shelter for people who are experiencing homelessness, creating more housing throughout the City, and working to address the root causes of social and structural racism. 

Press Release Date: 
06/05/2020
City Department: 
Mayor's Office