Finding a Home for Environmental Justice: HUD Seeks Input on EJ Strategy Update

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About the Author: James Potter is the Environmental Justice Coordinator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Jim is the co-chair of the Goods Movement Committee of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) and has participated on the EJIWG since 2006.

The ongoing housing and economic crisis has touched every family across the United States – but for low-income and minority communities, this crisis has been particularly devastating. At the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), we believe that all communities deserve equal protection from health hazards, equitable access to the federal decision-making process, and a healthy environment where they can work, live, and play.

HUD, a member of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG), is charged by Executive Order 12898 to develop a strategy for incorporating the principles of environmental justice into our work. We have made it a priority to update our strategy regularly, in order for us to meet with environmental justice stakeholders, get their input, and keep the strategy relevant to the needs and requests of those communities facing environmental justice issues.

It is now time for our current strategy to be updated.

BaltimoreMd_002We want our new strategy to reflect the needs and challenges of the communities disproportionately burdened by environmental injustices; therefore, we are organizing a series of public outreach meetings across the country. In order to make a plan that can have lasting positive impacts, we need to hear from you! We ask community residents and environmental justice advocates to tell us what we are doing right and what we can do to improve our work. This will be a first-hand opportunity to speak directly to the federal staff who work every day to ensure that environmental justice and equitable development are incorporated into everything that we and our grant recipients do.

These outreach meetings will be held across the country at HUD field offices during the first half of September.

  • Detroit, Michigan: September 8, 2016
  • Charleston, West Virginia: September 13, 2016
  • Boston, Massachusetts: September 16, 2016

These meetings will be held in each city at 10:00 a.m. Photo identification will be required of participants to access the building. We know that we must speak with those most impacted by our programs and actions as we look to the future of our work creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. During the listening sessions, we will be asking about what this strategy means to attendees, how they’ve been affected by climate change and what environmental justice looks like to them.

USEPA photo by Eric Vance

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If you’re located in one of the cities listed, please come talk to us. You will help us make a better plan so that we can craft strategies that have meaningful impacts for your community. If you are unable to attend the meetings however, there will be additional opportunities for you to contribute to our update. These meetings are just the start. Join EPA’s EJ Listserv to receive current information on the release of the public comment period.

The updated EJ Strategy will be available for public comment later this fall. An announcement in the Federal Register will be followed by public notices so that anyone interested in our environmental justice work can provide suggestions. Feel free to contact me via email or telephone at 202.402.4610 if you have additional questions regarding the listening tour, the public comment period, or the update to our EJ strategy in general.

Access to affordable housing impacts us all. But I know that this challenge impacts us differently, which is why I am honored to be a part of these upcoming listening sessions. I look forward to meeting with all of you and discussing the ways that we can engage with you and your communities to promote the principles of environmental justice in all of the work that we do at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I believe that with your help, we will be able to design a strategy that does truly incorporate the principles of environmental justice and equitable development.

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