- On July 7, 2020
It can be risky for a public agency like ours to speak on the social unrest that infuses our nation today. At the same time, risk also exists in silence that may convey acceptance – acceptance of events, practices, or beliefs that unequivocably contradict who we are, and who we strive to be as an organization. While we are proud to live and work in Reading, Pennsylvania – a community that feels less-fraught with injustice than perhaps other urban centers – we recognize that both recent events and historical inequalities can feel very, very personal to many of those that we employ, do business with or serve through our array of housing and supportive service programs.
In 2019, we concluded that RHA will adhere to the core values of RESPECT, HONESTY and ACCOUNTABILITY. In RESPECT for today’s passion and protest, RHA announces a commitment to increase our self-awareness and address any systemic racism, both in the explicit form, and that which may live below the surface of our daily routine. While we have much for which to be proud: a diverse workforce, a client base that represents the most disenfranchised of our neighbors, a true community policing program staffed by longtime officers with zero history of excessive use of force, and a culture that seeks to ensure housing stability for all persons served, we will find ways to do better.
Much is being said today about the necessity to engage in difficult conversations. In order to become more HONEST, we must identify and address bigotry in any form, no matter the magnitude or context. We must assess for bias that may be woven into the fabric of our business practices, especially those that fall to our local control. We must be open to any suggestion of disparity in our relationships with those with whom we work and those we serve, and take steps to remedy or disprove its existence with understanding and empathetic communication.
We will become more ACCOUNTABLE to you, and for this, we need your help. Ask the question. Challenge the plan. Invite us to the dialogue. Bring your opinion to a resident council meeting. Partner with us in serving our customers in new and different ways. Call out stereotyping.
Join us in rejecting racism and in service to our Reading community.
Chairman, Board of Commissioners