‘State of Black Austin’: Has the city implemented near-decade changes to improve quality of life?

AUSTIN (KXAN)—It’s been nearly a decade since the City of Austin committed to improving quality of life for Black Austinites.

This was a result of data collected that showed greater disparities compared to other groups.

Now, some Black community activists and leaders feel promises have gone unfulfilled.

“You [City of Austin] want us to believe that you actually care about us,” Chas Moore with the Austin Justice Coalition (AJC) said. “At what point do we get serious.”

He said he’s outraged and tired, saying Austin’s Black population—has been disregarded. He hosted a State of Black Austin Address on Wednesday. He revealed AJC turned to the nonprofit Measure for help tracking the city’s progress in improving conditions for Black people in Austin.

Measure said it analyzed a City Commission’s 56 recommendations for nine categories from the 2008 African American Quality of Life report.

“And despite measures work, to dig really deep into all of those…we encountered so many limitations that impacted our ability to be able to fully access and understand the implementation of those recommendations,” Meme Styles, president and founder of Measure said.” There are a lack of city updates, a lack of feedback, a lack of comprehensive communication strategy and a lack of data.”

Still, Styles said Measure tracked progress on city initiatives, but added its own recommendations in its own report, countering the city’s. The report hasn’t been released in full, but media was provided a draft copy.

“It goes beyond temporary fixes,” Styles said.

More than a dozen Black nonprofits have come together in the last few years to try to improve quality of life themselves. On Wednesday, they were all in one building collaborating with each other.

“The reason why we have so many nonprofits here, because at the end of the day, they didn’t have enough funding, to be able to be independent,” Michael Lofton with the African American Harvest Foundation said.

City and county grants have helped fund mental health, youth, trauma recovery and health programs through these nonprofits. But Lofton said there are still clear disparities.

“It’s lack of funding, lack of investment,” Lofton said.

Austin’s NAACP president Nelson Linder, agrees, and said this is not a new conversation.

“The policies here are not motivated by the right thing, and that’s our challenge,” Linder said. “I’m here to make sure folks understand, we’re not going to give up we live here, we’re going to survive.”

The city responded to criticism saying staff has not had the chance to review the report yet, so they can’t comment at this time.

Measure said it plans to release its 40-page report in full this week.

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