THE CPC WAY / Community Development

United We Stand

By Rafael E. Cestero, President & CEO

Over the past months the black community has suffered disproportionately from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have seen anger and outrage over the death of George Floyd at protests across the country that call out the injustices black people experience every day simply because of the color of their skin. We stand united with all those calling for the end of systemic racism in our country. The time has come for us all to say “ENOUGH.”

The anger, pain, and sadness that we are seeing in the protests and in the conversations that are being had is real. It is a raw emotional pain that comes from experiencing these injustices time and again, year after year, and having them diminished or totally dismissed without any hope of change. If we are going to honor Mr. Floyd and the countless others from the black community who have lost their lives in pursuit of justice and equality, we must have an open and honest dialogue about the realities of the world we live in, the work we do, and how we can all do our part to change it for the better.

CPC was founded in New York City in 1974 to be a source of stable capital and a resource to marginalized communities suffering from blight and abandonment during a time when other institutions either couldn’t or wouldn’t step up and invest in their future. We know that many of the communities we serve (and have historically served) are black neighborhoods that live under a cloud of institutional racism that affects their opportunities for housing, education, healthcare, economic prosperity, and which puts their lives at risk every day.

While we believe that providing access to safe, affordable housing has helped to create stronger communities and opportunities for families to find stability, we recognize that this is not enough to solve the problems of systemic racism that have existed in our country for hundreds of years. And as I’ve listened, engaged, read, and thought, it is also crystal clear to me that simply saying those words and acknowledging those truths is not enough.

We have started the process of engaging in open and frank conversations with our team members at CPC, with members of our board, and our other partners to discuss what else we can and should be doing. As we work to develop a concrete path forward to create this change, both inside and outside the company, we will continue to advocate for fair housing policies and practices, to invest in and provide technical support to M/WBE developers, and to get out and volunteer in the communities we serve.

We are looking inward and asking the question: As a nonprofit whose mission it is to invest in housing to strengthen underserved communities, what else can we do to help create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive company and society? If I’m being honest I don’t know what the answer is and I know CPC alone cannot solve these problems. But we can challenge ourselves to do more, take small steps, and help the country move forward to a better place.

By Rafael E. Cestero, President & CEO
Rafael E. Cestero is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), and a member of its board of directors.

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