Building on previous equity efforts that began his first day in office, an Executive Order issued by President Biden on February 16 asserts that the federal government will “invest in communities where Federal policies have historically impeded equal opportunity — both rural and urban — in ways that mitigate economic displacement, expand access to capital, preserve housing and neighborhood affordability, root out discrimination in the housing market, and build community wealth.”
The President’s directive also covers health, environmental justice, education, and other topics. It defines equity to include not only racial/ethnic and geographic equity, but also equitable treatment of individuals and communities based on religion, gender, gender identity and sexual preference, disability, and persistent poverty or inequality.
Particularly relevant to the work of HAC and our partners is the EO’s commitment to “build prosperity in rural communities”:
Agencies shall undertake efforts, to the extent consistent with applicable law, to help rural communities identify and access Federal resources in order to create equitable economic opportunity and advance projects that build community wealth, including by providing or supporting technical assistance; incentivizing the creation of good, high-paying union jobs in rural areas; conducting outreach to and soliciting input from rural community leaders; and contributing new resources and support to interagency programs such as the Rural Partners Network.
The EO tells federal agencies to establish Equity Teams, which will support their agencies’ external activities as well as training and diversity efforts with agency staff. A White House Steering Committee on Equity will coordinate overall activities.