Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at AvalonBy: Avalon Housing
As we commemorate Juneteenth* this month, this reflection about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Avalon is an honor. Avalon’s Equity Ambassador Committee (EAC) has been working diligently on implementing policies and best practices, to advance Avalon’s mission at an organizational level.
“An Avalon Equity Ambassador is a champion of our vision for equity, in particular racial equity, in the organization and in the community broadly. We are conduits of information; role models, helping to shape and support the culture at Avalon Housing. We are committed to keeping people, organizational values, and the Equity vision at the center of our work. We are intentional and mindful of the presence of racism and its insidious nature and are constantly looking at our work through this lens”. -Avalon Housing EAC
Avalon Housing’s mission is: “to build healthy, safe and inclusive supportive housing communities as a long-term solution to homelessness.” Many people have ideas and beliefs around why people experience homelessness or housing instability. However, in order to advance our mission, it’s imperative that we understand the underlying causes of homelessness. Systemic racism and implicit bias are among the challenging barriers to achieving our mission.
Opportunities for Growth and Change
I believe that providing a pro-equity culture within our workplace is essential to guiding how our programs, policies, and decision-making practices align with our organization’s vision. As we embark on this journey, there are multiple factors to consider. A key step in this process has been the cultivation of honest conversations. Identifying opportunities for growth and barriers to equity at a governance, organizational, and community level has been vital to this initiative.
As the EAC proceeds with implementation of its action plan, Avalon’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is visibly flourishing. Through staff and community feedback, action items have been prioritized and propelled from paper to practice. Subcommittees of the EAC are actively implementing the following DEI-inspired initiatives:
- Updated policies and procedures
- Inclusive and affirming signage in spaces managed by Avalon
- Workplace affinity groups
- Diversified board and staff
- Dedicated staff time for equity work
As an original member of the EAC, I am eternally grateful to witness the incredible progress and efforts being made across all departments.
As we model the practice of keeping equity at the center of our work at Avalon, I hope this creates a ripple effect into our broader community. This shift will not happen overnight. However, collectively planting seeds is a small ask and great start!
By Layton Price, Community and Youth Programs Lead
* Juneteenth is “..the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the Unites States” according to American literary critic, teacher, historian and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr.