Milwaukee County’s Office on African American Affairs (OAAA) will soon establish community restoration centers throughout the county to address a host of racial disparities, according to a resolution adopted by the Board of Supervisors last week.
“Racial disparities in education, healthcare, and employment are denying our neighbors access to opportunity, security, and freedom that everyone deserves,” said Supervisor John Weishan. “We’ve established the Office of American Affairs, we’ve given it a mission, and now we are providing some guidance to actually start addressing these disparities.”
The community resource centers are envisioned as neighborhood based facilities that organizations can use to provide educational, healthcare, and employment services to residents in areas of concentrated disparity.
The action by supervisors calls for the Director of the Office of African American Affairs to situate community resource centers at existing county facilities, such as park pavilions, and to work with the Milwaukee County Parks Department to make those locations available.
Supervisor John Weishan Jr., authored the resolution after listening to county residents discuss their priorities for the Office of African American Affairs. Weishan then worked with Darryl Farmer and Kevin Barnes of Community Vanguard, who proposed the community restoration centers as a means to help the OAAA work towards its mission.
County Executive Chris Abele has not yet appointed a director to the Office of African American Affairs, which was formed in 2016.
The Office of African American Affairs is meant to advise the County Executive and the County Board of Supervisors on the rights and needs of African American communities concerning inequality of health metrics, education, food deserts, unemployment, young people and children, affordable housing, small business creation, and the disproportionately high numbers of African Americans in the prison system.
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