Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion

Promoting fair and equitable access to housing opportunities has long been a guiding principle for VHFA. In that spirit, VHFA set three new commitments in 2020 to further justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in housing, hiring and leadership:

  1. Work to increase the number of black, indigenous, and people of color on VHFA's staff, in Agency leadership positions and Board of Commissioners.
  2. Disaggregate VHFA’s programmatic data to make clear who VHFA’s lending and assistance programs serve and which neighborhoods may be over/under-represented. This information will be public and we will target future resources in response accordingly.
  3. Strengthen and improve interpretation services and communication about VHFA’s programs to cover more languages.

Executive Director Maura Collins posed a call to action, with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and other community partners, at a July 2020 press conference. Decrying racism as a public health emergency, Collins invited staff to propose ways to increase justice, equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the Agency's systems and impacts. These staff devoted their initial efforts to identifying strategies to make clear, measurable progress toward the Agency's three new commitments.

Progress

Commitment #1:  Work to increase the number of black, indigenous, and people of color on VHFA's staff, in Agency leadership positions and on its Board of Commissioners.

Strategy Status

Expand applicant pools for open VHFA positions so that they equitably reflect BIPOC candidates. 
 

  • Improving job postings and descriptions to clarify importance of multicultural competency and commitment to diversity and inclusion for applicants and VHFA benefits embracing diverse holiday and workspace needs.
  • Expanding recruiting platforms and locations to include Vermont Professionals of Color and AlliedVT
  • Working to demonstrate the priority that diversity and inclusion has throughout VHFA operations and the impact of it's programs on BIPOC Vermonters and other underserved populations.  
Integrate clear explanation of the value of diverse lived experiences in job descriptions and interview questions.   Completed for all positions open since January 2020.  
Build interest in VT affordable housing and community development careers among future BIPOC job candidates.   Created Vermont Housing Fellowship program in 2019 and expanded to include post-fellowship mentoring and networking opportunities in 2020. 
Make commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion widely recognized components of VHFA’s brand.  
  • Seeking connections to organizations who serve a racially-diverse customer-base.
  • Planning to improve main website through clearer program descriptions, more focus on impact of programs and integrating of the importance of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in all facets of organization.

 

Commitment #2: Disaggregate VHFA’s programmatic data to make clear who VHFA’s lending and assistance programs serve and which neighborhoods may be over/under-represented. This information will be public and we will target future resources in response accordingly.

Strategy Status

Design and publish an equity dashboard for main website.

In process of creating a report listing number of apartments supported through VHFA rented by BIPOC tenants and home mortgage program BIPOC customers.

Improve direct outreach to BIPOC communities about VHFA programs.

In process of seeking collaboration with organizations serving BIPOC customers, such as AALV& and UVM Medical Center's financial assistance office, to provide information about home buying, wealth building, VHFA programs, and other available housing resources.

Propose ways to target resources to serve more BIPOC home buyers and renters with VHFA programs.

Currently researching best practices among housing finance agencies for increasing BIPOC renters and home buyers.

 

Commitment #3: Strengthen and improve interpretation services and communication about VHFA’s programs to cover more languages.

Strategy Status

Improve inbound communication

  • Made on-call service available for non-English speakers to request information in their language.

  • Planning VHFA contact forms and phone call answering in requested languages.

Improve outbound / marketing communications

Planning ads, landing pages outlining our services in multiple languages and webinars and training with live interpreter.

Improve web site communications

  • Adding a "Request page translation" block to vhfa.org web pages by December 2020.

  • Planning to make translations available for most used web pages by March 2021 and entire site by October 2021. 

Outcomes

Resources