Commitment Statement

posted:

Dear friends,

We have all been astounded by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers who were entrusted by their public to serve and protect all the people of Minneapolis. This was not an isolated event, and we are shocked by that fact. I am outraged, and I know our staff here at Healthy Homes share in that outrage. Individually, we have all acted and continue to act.

Now, after acting and listening carefully to the voices of those most directly affected, it is time for the Healthy Homes Coalition to affirm clearly and publicly our commitment to racial justice and equity. 

The Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan is born out of the environmental injustice of childhood lead poisoning, a health inequity that has harmed children of color at a far greater rate than their white counterparts in our Grand Rapids community. Our commitment to resolving this injustice, along with the other social determinants related to substandard housing, continues to strengthen.

In 2019, this commitment was further elevated when we enhanced our mission statement. "We prioritize children's health and wellbeing by eliminating harmful housing conditions, beginning in Grand Rapids’ hardest-hit neighborhoods.” That emphasis on hardest-hit neighborhoods is a doubling down on our organization’s core values of Environmental Justice, Empowering Families, Respect, and Integrity.

Our commitment to healthy environments for children connects us, inextricably, to many other injustices—including the current cry for policing reform. These injustices all find their root in racism. We are committed to working hard to both solve injustice and end racism.

This is, arguably, hard work.  Along the way, we have made mistakes. We can and must learn from those mistakes and we need to do better. Our fear of making mistakes should not temper our resolve to get this right and bring forth justice.

When it comes to important issues like children’s health or policing, it is not enough to just serve the underserved. We cannot solve problems without truly knowing what those problems are and where their roots lie. We must dig deeper into these issues to begin exploring solutions. This means we are always listening, learning, and working hard to improve.

We must work together, letting those most directly affected lead the effort. That is why three years ago the Healthy Homes Coalition began investing in community organizing as a strategy for solving the problem of substandard housing that hurts children, especially black and brown children. As a grassroots organization, we are committed to listening, supporting, and lifting up the voices of those most directly affected by these inequities. Only then can we hope to resolve injustice.

The time to act on all these injustices has always been now. We stand with all those who are grieving recent events and the injustices they represent. We stand with those who are angry. We stand with those who are calling for urgent reform.

We support the call to justice, and we are committed to daily work in the years to come to make sure that this is a community of opportunity and hope for all in equal measure. For us, that means we will continue to work for the safety of all children, both now and into adulthood.

In solidarity,

Paul Haan
Executive Director


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