NAACP: Walsh failing to meet campaign promises

Little improvement for communities of color under Walsh

Jule Pattison-Gordon | 10/25/2017, 10:40 a.m.
Mayor Martin Walsh has fallen short of campaign promises to improve educational outcomes, increase access to employment and housing and ...
(left) Segun Idowu, third vice president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, and (right) Tanisha Sullivan, president of the branch. Banner photo

Mayor Martin Walsh has fallen short of campaign promises to improve educational outcomes, increase access to employment and housing and increase public safety in communities of color, according to a report released by the NAACP Boston Branch on Sunday.

Drawing on city data, the NAACP, working in conjunction with a coalition of civil rights and community-based organizations, rated Walsh no higher than a C in any of the main areas. Conclusions were based on city data and news reporting.

“While some of the outcomes are disappointing, we hold firm to the belief that we all want what is best for people in this city,” Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, said in a statement to the Banner. “The report should serve to highlight many of the issues of importance within communities of color, as well as be a guidepost for our collective work in identifying and implementing results driven solutions.”

Walsh’s office disputed the NAACP’s low assessments of his track record, telling the Banner in a statement, “We need to take the time to closely review this report, however we respectfully disagree with the grades given. While there is always room for improvement, we are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish over the past four years.” Walsh’s office said he had created opportunities for minority-owned businesses, created affordable housing and added more than 700 pre-kindergarten seats.

Economic development: D grade

Employment, minority businesses and corporate responsibility

While the NAACP report authors noted Walsh’s efforts regarding job skills development, they also said it was unclear if this had produced more employment for people of color, and cited the significantly higher unemployment rate among people of color compared to whites.

Only a thin slice of city spending is conducted with minority-owned business enterprises, with the amount of purchasing dollars directed to such firms lower in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 than in the prior two years. It is unclear if recent efforts will help, report authors said. The Banner reported recently that by the Walsh administration’s figures, for each of the past three years, the share of city contracting dollars spent on minority-owned businesses has been less than half of a percent, although the city has promised to study the disparity. Authors also graded Walsh an F in efforts to encourage companies to engage in hiring and supply procurement from diverse companies.

Affordable Housing

Housing has been a focus issue in the mayoral campaign, with the Walsh administration touting its plans to ramp up housing stock production by 2030. But NAACP gave Walsh a D for results, stating that since 2011 only about 2.3 percent of units constructed or permitted by the city between Jan. 2011 and Dec. 2016 can realistically be deemed “affordable.” The affordable housing supply is not meeting needs, authors said, and clearer strategies are needed for fully addressing the problem. However, they added that increases in the inclusionary development policy requirements were useful and the amount of city-controlled resources directed for affordable housing exceeded the city’s goal.