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U.S. Department of Energy fact sheet guide to Energy Savings Performance Contracting for governments.
Houston is one of the most inequitable cities in the United States. Households with incomes in the top 5% earn nearly 10 times more than households in the bottom 20th percentile. Thus, it is not surprising that while Houston ranks as the second-most prosperous city in the United States and the fifth fastest-growing, it only ranks 64th on a list of most economically inclusive cities. This staggering contrast between general wealth and individual welfare in our city creates both an enormous challenge and a great opportunity to improve lives through effective public policy. Mayor Turner is the best-situated elected leader in the South to embrace equity as a driving principle of his administration. He has an opportunity to demonstrate a model for the region that advances transformative policy shifts, which could impact millions of lives. Mayor Turner launched the Complete Communities initiative earlier this year, a program focused on transforming historically under-resourced communities by developing solutions in partnership with residents and leaders that are tailored to each neighborhood. The goal is to expand access to quality affordable homes, jobs, parks, improved streets and sidewalks, grocery and retail stores, good schools, and transit options. To build on this effort, Mayor Turner created the Mayoral Task Force on Equity, charging it with developing actionable policy recommendations to make Houston a more equitable city.
Local governments can advance energy-efficient technologies and practices in the marketplace by promoting energy efficiency in their own everyday operations, a practice commonly known as "Leading by Example" (LBE). Taking actions to improve the energy efficiency of government-owned and -leased facilities and fleets can accrue multiple benefits for both the government and the people it serves. Energy can account for as much as 10% of a typical local government's annual operating budget. As local governments attempt to act with heightened levels of austerity, implementing cost-effective energy efficiency processes and technologies is a proven solution to reduce unneeded spending.
Clean Energy Works Portland (CEWP) is an innovative effort to deliver affordable home energy upgrades by testing new ways of delivering energy efficiency to homeowners in Portland. The project is intended to save energy, reduce carbon emissions, improve home comfort and home values, and create new jobs and long-term employment opportunties and career paths for Portland area residents.
Economic recovery is not returning to all communities equally: the unemployment rate for White workers is down to nearly 4 percent nationally, while the unemployment rate for Black workers is more than double that. This disparity in employment is not an anomaly of our current economy, but has been the persistent reality for people of color for decades. Repeated studies show that job seekers of color are far less likely to be hired than their White counterparts, even when equally qualified.
The Neighborhood Jobs Trust (NJT) was created in 1987 to ensure that Boston's low- and moderate-income residents benefit, in the form of job training, from the development in their city. In other words, the Trust translates commercial development in the physical landscape into economic empowerment in the human one. Given that Boston is in the midst of the largest 4-year building boom in its history, the Trust has only grown in significance as a mechanism to make Boston a more equitable and prosperous city for all its residents. Over 2016-2017, NJT allocated $2.2 million to support over 2,300 residents in a variety of programs - from occupational skills training to adult literacy to tuition support - to develop their economic potential. This investment has yielded results. Placed graduates of NJT grantee programs earned an average hourly wage of $15.23 - a figure well above the city's living wage.
Ordinance amending Administrative Code Chapter 6, Public Works Contracting Policies and Procedures, Subsection 6.22(G), to establish a local hiring policy for City public work or improvement projects requiring contractors and their subcontractors to perform certain percentages of project work hours using San Francisco residents and disadvantaged San Francisco residents, making finding in support of the policy authorizing incentives for contractors and subcontractors who exceed local hiring requirements, mandating assessment of penalties against contractors and subcontractors who fail to meet minimum local hiring requirements, and establishing monitoring, enforcement and administrative procedures in support of the policy.
Businesses owned by people of color create jobs and build wealth in communities of color. Yet despite rapid growth of entrepreneurship among people of color and women of color in particular - these businesses face significant barriers to growth and success. Government spending on construction, goods, and services is a potential opportunity to advance economic inclusion, but municipalities often under-contract with businesses owned by people of color. In Shelby County, TN, for example, only 6 percent of county contracts went to Black-owned companies, despite the fact that the county itself is 53 percent Black, and Memphis, the largest city in the county, has the second highest rate in the country of Black-owned businesses, at 56 percent. The reasons why local governments have so often failed to provide fair contracting opportunities to businesses owned by people of color are many, ranging from outright corruption and nepotism with companies that are politically connected, to banal bureaucratic processes that smaller, understaffed, and overworked businesses do not have the time or ability to navigate; the vast majority of businesses owned by people of color are small businesses.
As the Road Map to Emerald Cities explains, the engine of the Emerald Cities Initiative is a dynamic partnership between labor and community and a common pledge to work together: to green our cities in ways that address the threat of climate change and chart a high-road path to economic revitalization; to build our communities in ways that create good jobs and promote equality; and, to strengthen our democracy in ways that give greater voice to community and labor and increase access to consequential decision-making about the urban future.
We are in an unprecedented moment in U.S. history. It is a time of resurgent racism and inequality, but also of newly energized and ambitious activism. We propose that the most effective way to take advantage of that momentum and reclaim American democracy is through investment in progressive organizing in the nation’s cities. Throughout the country, cities provide the diversity, social bonds, union strength, coalitional relationships and experience necessary to achieve governing power in the interest of the common good. Despite deep investments by right-wing interests to diminish government and promote a radically pro-corporate agenda, city-based organizations continue to win an extraordinary range of policies that improve people’s lives, from wage increases and public school improvements, to affordable housing funding and climate resiliency solutions, to immigrant protections and criminal justice reform. Support to expand organizing in cities can drive and implement a new forward-looking vision for the country as a whole.