D.C. has been ranked as the city where African-Americans are doing the best economically, based on having the highest median incomes and homeownership for Black residents nationwide and the highest growth rate of Black startup businesses over the past five years, according to Forbes magazine.
Mayor Muriel Bowser kicked off Black History Month on the coattails of that ranking, speaking about prosperity for the city’s Black residents with the release of a toolkit that aims to give them access to needed government resources.
The kit — “A Fair Shot: A Toolkit for African-American Prosperity” — gives an overview of each of the city’s government programs and resources available to help African-American residents. Along with an overview of the program, the D.C. government agency that oversees each resource is included, as well as contact information.
“African-Americans in Washington, D.C., have created a rich history that cannot be overlooked. Our community built much of the city, its character and culture,” said Rahman Branch, director of the D.C. Office of African-American Affairs. “For far too long, many African-American Washingtonians have felt left out or locked out of the progress happening around them.”
Branch said the toolkit is a starting point to get more Black residents on the pathway to the middle class and hopes that residents will take advantage of the programs included in the guide.
Some who have participated in the programs say they wish more knew about them.
Robin McKinney, a Ward 8 resident and single mother of seven, participated a housing program after a flood in their apartment left them homeless and in a shelter.
“Me and my children now not only have keys to our own home, [we also have] keys to the city,” McKinney said.
Divided into four sections — individual residents, senior citizens, families and business owners — city officials said they hope it will be a “roadmap” to help Black residents of all zip codes and income levels thrive in the city.
“We know there is more work to do to ensure African-Americans in every corner of the District have a fair shot,” Bowser said. “With this toolkit, we are ensuring that the hardworking residents who could benefit most from the many resources and programs we have available actually know about them.
On Feb. 24 at noon, several city agencies will host “A Fair Shot: A Prosperity Fair,” an opportunity for residents to learn about the programs outlined in the toolkit, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.