Why Now and What's at Stake?

(In)equity in Gainesville Today

In Gainesville today, who you are determines where you live and much about your life outcomes.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, in Alachua County:

  • Black household incomes averaged $32,000, compared to $51,000 for white households.
  • Black unemployment was almost twice the rate (15%) as for white Gainesvillians (8%).
  • 45% of children in Black families suffered from poverty, more than 3X the rate of white children.

These deep and persistent disparities are closely linked to decades of housing segregation and economic discrimination that deprived Black Gainesvillians of the wealth-building opportunities that their white neighbors enjoyed. As city, state and federal policies subsidized homeownership for white residents and created new suburbs, federally-enabled policies, such as redlining and racial covenants, blocked Black and non-white families from moving into “high value” neighborhoods. This placed them farther from quality jobs, schools and parks. Public housing was located far from these resources and underfunded by the federal government, further worsening housing conditions for low-income residents.

The legacy of this inequity and injustice is alive today in Gainesville. Because of these factors and more, Black, low-income and non-white Gainesvillians have poorer access to jobs, quality housing and community resources. Policies, programs and decision-making practices have historically prioritized large businesses, high-income residents, college students and tourists at the exclusion of others. 

Recent Efforts to Address Racial Equity

Since 2017, the City of Gainesville has sought to realign city policies to address inequity in Gainesville. Efforts have included:

  • Updating housing regulations to encourage more affordable housing.
  • Uncovering the locations of racial covenants across the city.
  • Beginning a housing plan to increase access to affordable and high-quality housing for all.
  • Testing new shuttle routes and other strategies to better connect east and west Gainesville.
  • Supporting community-driven plans in neighborhoods including Porters to define residents’ goals and plans for the future.

In 2019, the City Commission identified the need for a citywide plan that ties together these and other efforts to address inequity. Commissioners charged city departments with “explicitly naming and addressing the historic and current impacts of institutional and structural racism in our policies, procedures, programming, initiatives, and budgetary decisions,” and developing a plan that “not only includes shared distribution of the benefits and burdens of growth and investments, but also partnership in the process resulting in shared decision-making and more equitable outcomes that strengthen the entire city.”

In November 2019, City Commissioners chose to achieve these goals through an update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.