Thank you to the countless community members for their hard work in this process. This is a report by and for the community.
Create and Invest in Sustainable Economic Opportunities for Black and Latinx Communities to Promote and Maintain Self-sufficiency, Entrepreneurship and Career Advancement.
Inadequate investment into Black and Brown communities is detrimental for families and the local economy. Lengthy and cumbersome application processes for Minority and Women-Owned Business certifications pose barriers to building wealth for people of color. The Commission recommends that the City of Rochester and Monroe County create a localized process for businesses to become MWBE-certified, so that local businesses have a more accessible and streamlined process. Redesigning civil service functions to create equitable and unobstructed access for applicants, as well as pushing for a $15/hour minimum wage increase locally, are additional recommendations. The $15/hour minimum wage should be added as a requirement to contracts with agencies and businesses with the City and County.
End Practices that Disproportionately impact Black and Brown Communities.
Report findings show that communities of color throughout Monroe County are at a disadvantage in the criminal justice, education, and social services systems due to its policies. African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated, experience school suspensions and be brought into social service. To address these problems, the Commission recommends an end to police stops for minor offenses with the intention to investigate something different, and decriminalizing and de-prioritizing violation-level offenses — making incarceration a last resort. The commission calls on the City and County to embrace a philosophy of diversion and restorative justice, ending Monroe County’s high use of financial assistance sanctions in human services to ensure individuals who need help can get it. Lastly, the City and County should increase access to mental health and social emotional support services for all Rochester City School District students.
Implement and Sustain Practices that increase Racial/Ethnic Diversity and Cultural Competence of Employees, Vendors, and Contractors.
The report shows that organizations and agencies are deficient in cultural/linguistic competencies which often leads to a lack of efficiency and cultural responsiveness in service delivery and care to Black and Brown communities. The Commission recommends for the City of Rochester and Monroe County to increase and strengthen the cultural competence of their entire workforces, use government contracting and procurement practices to require all contractors to have diversity, equity, and inclusion policies in place, and for all Monroe County school districts to provide the full range of curriculum offerings for English Language Learners, as well as offering programs to students and their families in their native language.
Decentralize City and County Services and embed them in trusted agencies within the community.
Report findings say that the relationship between police and the Black community has a long history rooted in injustice and distrust, from Native Americans to the enslavement of African Americans. The Commission recommends to create and fully fund alternatives to police, including trained community responders, crisis intervention specialists and community mediators. Additionally, the Commission recommends the creation of a community-based program for youth facing criminal charges, which would include counseling and restorative justice circles, case managers who create a comprehensive plan with parents and youth, respite services, and a forensic psychiatric specialist trained to handle youth with complex mental health issues. The foster care and child protective care services should be redesigned by using blind removal meetings, hiring culture brokers, and developing kinship navigators. The Monroe County Department of Public Health should be decentralized, with service locations in Black and brown neighborhoods.
Embed Accountability Measures in all Policies to ensure Equity and Fairness across all Services, Programs, and Delivery models.
The report finds that the lack of reliable transparency and accountability has negatively impacted trust between Black and Brown communities and government systems. Recommendations include: City and County to bring the major players in the criminal justice system and community members together to review local criminal justice data and identify strategies to eliminate racial disparities. Additionally, the Commission recommends the adoption of tenant protection strategies such as right to counsel, a local fair housing law, and incentives to expand affordable housing options throughout Monroe County. Lastly, it is recommended that the City and County invest and support the “Liveable Communities for an Older Adults” Initiative, which would address racial discrimination impacting older people of color, under the oversight of representative and diverse advisory boards.
To enact the proposed recommendations, Mayor Warren and County Executive Bello will select recommendations that they, or city council and/or the county legislature, can put into practice. Then, a successor to the Commission would be identified to govern the implementation process, as well as a plan to ensure that any new policies requiring additional funds, state or federal action, is met.