Equity isn’t just a buzzword
“Look around you. This is Minnesota. Minnesota is not like it was 30, 50 years ago. … This is Minnesota and you have every right to be here. And anybody who cannot accept your right to be here, and this is Minnesota, should find another state.”
Governor Mark Dayton didn’t mince any words when he spoke to St. Cloud’s chapter of the NAACP last week. He made it clear that his administration fully recognizes that Minnesota is becoming a more diverse state and he intends to make sure that all people have the ability to succeed.
As the region’s main planning entity, the Metropolitan Council has been on the forefront of this issue. Data shows that by 2040, 40% of the region’s population will be made up of people of color, compared with 26% today, and one in three households in the Twin Cities region will be composed of senior citizens.
That is a huge demographic shift, and we know by measures such as employment, home ownership and income that people of color are lagging far behind white citizens. Our current housing stock will not accommodate the needs of a growing population of senior citizens.
To address this problem the Metropolitan Council is taking the concept of equity and incorporating it in all of the work we do. This is work that was begun by my predecessor, Chair Sue Haigh, and the Council Members and I are committed to continue it as we move forward with our Thrive MSP 2040 plan.
The Council has been raising these important policy questions and we believe it is important to act as well. Are our regional parks as welcoming to new immigrants as they are to others? Is mass transit connecting low-income citizens to job centers across the region, and is it accessible to seniors? How can we help communities make plans to meet these changing demographics?
Equity is one of the key principles we will apply when we answer these questions. It is not about placing the needs of one group over another. It’s about giving every citizen in the region an equal shot at a fair outcome.
By Adam Duininck