The Biden administration on Thursday launched a host of initiatives aimed at making government services more accessible to marginalized groups.
The White House said new “Equity Action Plans” were released by more than 90 federal agencies to “address the systemic barriers in our nation’s policies and programs that hold too many underserved communities back from prosperity, dignity, and equality.”
The announcement is a follow-up to an executive order President Joe Biden signed on his first day in office, which focused on “advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government.”
Historically, government programs like aid to farmers and benefits for military veterans have engaged in racism by barring some groups — especially, Black people — from access. Poor people, migrants and LGBTQ people have also struggled to access such benefits due to government neglect and overt discrimination.
The White House said the new equity plans represent a “generational commitment” to reversing that inequality.
One plan for the Department of Housing and Urban Development involves “working to eliminate the racial gap in homeownership, address the disproportionate rates of homelessness among underserved communities, and reduce bias in home appraisals.”
Another plan, through the Department of Transportation, vows to “provide targeted support with planning, project development, grant applications, and project delivery for communities that face barriers to accessing transportation resources.”
A new plan from the Department of Labor authorizes the agency to strengthen “the enforcement of our nation’s wage and hour protections to support underserved workers who are the most vulnerable to wage theft and violations, especially women of color.”
And another, executed through the Department of Health and Human Services, is focused on “increasing outreach to communities of color to encourage enrollment in free and low-cost health care, and is addressing the maternal mortality crisis that disproportionately impacts Black and Native families.”
Major federal investments like the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, both passed last year, sent a windfall of funds to federal agencies and local governments. But absent a plan to distribute the funds equitably, these investments have always run the risk of worsening decades of inequality.
Thursday’s announcement from the White House represents a step toward making sure all Americans can partake in government agencies that are funded on their dime.