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ISSUES   |   CLOSING THE RACIAL WEALTH GAP

CLOSING THE RACIAL WEALTH GAP

The racial wealth gap in Boston and throughout the United States is rooted in policies and practices that have allowed systemic racism to persist for hundreds of years. Those policies and practices trap many Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) in low-paying jobs, with high costs of living relative to income. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to escape the cycles of poverty and build intergenerational wealth.

According to a 2015 study by the Federal Reserve, the average net worth for a white household in Greater Boston is $247,500. For a Black household, the average net worth is only $8. This is a shameful data point for our city in particular. For context, nationally the average white family has a net worth of $188,200, compared to a Black family’s $24,100. The pandemic has likely made these disparities worse.

There is no single answer to how the gap can be closed by building BIPOC wealth. It’s a complex issue, and the response must be multifaceted and deeply layered. City government has a critical role to play, because it’s uniquely positioned to harness local, regional, and national resources and partnerships to have the biggest impact on people in Boston’s neighborhoods. 

As a Black man, John knows first hand what it means to dream of change for both his family and his community. He also knows the fear of not being able to manifest those dreams because of barriers to obtaining wealth.

He knows that in order to make significant progress in closing the racial wealth gap, the City’s response cannot be piecemeal. There needs to be a holistic approach to increasing the resources available to families of color as well as the speed at which they can accumulate resources in order to eliminate disposable income and savings deficits, build financial surpluses over time, and escape cycles of financial instability. His approach falls into two main categories: increasing the income of BIPOC residents, and creating the conditions where BIPOC residents can accumulate wealth.

 

John’s record:

Executive Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

 

  • Lead efforts for community residents to become homeowners and business owners.

  • Expanded access to homeownership and developed initiatives that increased financial stability for local Black, Indigenous, and people of color and allowed additional opportunities for wealth building in a variety of other assets.
     

Chief of Economic Development
 

  • Successfully led the effort to get the City to commit to at least 25% of public contracts (representing approximately $170-$180 million) going to businesses owned by women and people of color every year.

  • Successfully included diversity and inclusion language (similar to Massport) as part of the evaluation of proposals responding to requests for proposals for City-owned land. The City now looks at diversity of ownership and professional team as part of all proposals.

  • Increased access to capital for small businesses owned by people of color, pathways to high quality jobs for young people, and increased access to affordable housing.

  • Built innovation into the Bruce C. Bolling Building by creating a physical space for the Roxbury Innovation Center, activated by Innovation Studio.

  • Worked with the private sector to create 140,000 good jobs, and worked to make sure Bostonians had access to those jobs. Increased the targets of the Boston Residents Jobs Policy, to 51% Boston residents, 40% people of color, and 12% women, and worked to create a reliable system for ensuring compliance. 

  • Ensured greater participation of local and BIPOC-owned companies and investors in large development projects in Boston, including the redevelopment of the Winthrop Square Garage. 

  • Worked with the business community to increase Linkage payments, resulting in a 42% increase in 2021. This increase will generate millions of dollars for affordable housing and jobs programs.

  • Successfully pushed to increase the state match for the Earned Income Tax Credit to 30%, providing millions of additional dollars for low- to moderate- income working families 

  • Helped lead a successful effort to lift the “cap on kids,” a policy that denies resources for children conceived while, or soon after, a family receives public benefits. 

  • Worked to create the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) in 2014, to link those seeking financial security and wealth generation with access to capital, financial education, and financial services. It provides financial check ups, credit building strategies, tax prep, access to EITC and other services. 

  • Worked with the Mayor’s Office to create the Economic Mobility Lab, a team of social entrepreneurs that pilots ideas with the potential to help low-income people increase their wealth. 

  • Helped roll out Boston Saves, a Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program that provides students, starting in kindergarten, with resources for college or career that help set them up for future success. Supported programs that offered financial coaching and free tax-time services.

  • Worked with higher educational institutions to help launch Boston’s Tuition Free Community College program.


As Mayor, John will:
 

Increase the income of Black, Indigeonous, and people of color by creating more pathways to higher education and good jobs. 
 

  • Join Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and work with business, philanthropy and our institutions to pilot a minimum guaranteed income program for Boston.

    • Recent data from a pilot program in Stockton, California shows promising results, and recent federal actions with regard to direct payments to families in the coronavirus relief bill will provide the foundation needed to expand.

  • Advocate to expand the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 30% to 50%, to return more money directly to low-and moderate- income families

  • Increase career options for Bostonians by strengthening Madison Park Vocational Technical High School and establishing a citywide apprenticeship program in skilled labor positions such as carpentry, masonry, and plumbing.

  • Complete the buildout of the Boston Resident Jobs Policy program to include fees and fines for bad actors. 

  • Work with local colleges and universities to use their Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to provide affordable college education for public school youth. 

  • Work to make community college debt-free for more Boston residents by expanding the Tuition Free Community College program.

  • Ensure greater coordination with employers who are looking to grow in Boston, to understand jobs they will be hiring for, and connect them to local workforce development programs that will train local residents for those opportunities. 

Read more about John's jobs plan.

John will also create the conditions where more Black, Indigenous, and people of color can accumulate wealth through homeownership, business ownership, and access to capital. 
 

  • Call urgent attention to the ways wealth is extracted from Black and brown communities through long-standing systemic racism in the economy (housing discrimination, absence of strong labor laws, higher cost of borrowing, charges associated with mass incarceration, amongst other issues), and work to implement bold solutions that eliminate barriers and create opportunities for people of color. 

  • Create a pipeline of new homeowners by expanding access to homeownership programs and aggressively recruiting participants.

  • Cultivate a citywide housing fund to use for matching housing down payments, lowering down payments, reducing closing costs, and reducing interest payment on mortgage products, in order to reduce debt and increase equity in homeownership.

  • Encourage shared ownership and cooperative ownership of assets to expand access to wealth-building opportunities, including in real estate, business, and investments through vehicles such as Neighborhood Investment Funds. 

  • Create a City fund to increase access to capital for new and existing business owners of color.

  • Develop industry-focused accelerator programs in partnership with local organizations to increase access to training and opportunities for BIPOC entrepreneurs to start their business and make Boston a premier location for attracting entrepreneurial talent of color. 

  • Following up on the 2014 Neighborhood Innovation District Committee recommendations, expand the pilot from Upham’s Corner and Nubian Square to more neighborhoods across the city to democratize innovation and to foster entrepreneurial communities. 

  • Advocate for the elimination of an asset limit for families on public assistance programs, providing an opportunity for our most vulnerable residents to accumulate wealth.

  • Leverage and supplement federal money coming to individuals through ARPA.

  • Work with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to create programming solutions and resources to make socioeconomic success a reality for historically marginalized Boston residents.

  • Work to ensure greater participation of local and BIPOC-owned companies and investors in large development projects in Boston.

A MESSAGE FROM JOHN

Just as this campaign is a community effort, this policy plan has been informed by a diverse group of residents, policy makers, and community organizations who reflect Boston's ingenuity, passion, and future. In this policy you will see your voice reflected and your neighborhood priorities front and center. I am incredibly grateful for the hours, data, and guidance leant to support this effort. I welcome continued feedback and suggestions from all corners of the city, because I know that policies are most successful when led by the community.
 
Now, more than ever, I have the opportunity to bring all voices to the table to create a Boston that brings prosperity and justice for everyone.Together we can create a Boston where nobody is left behind.
 
Thank you for reading and helping to shape Boston's future, I look forward to working with you.