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St. Louis project to measure if city equally distributes services among residents

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson addresses the media on July 14, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Concerns over whether city resources are equally distributed to people of color and poor residents have prompted a shift to assess St. Louis policies.

Mayor LydaKrewson has hired Cristina Garmendia to manage the Equity Indicators project to develop a tool that measures equity.

“This project provides an opportunity to develop a common set of goals and measurements to guide institutional decision-making and empower residents to hold us accountable to the priorities identified by the community in the Forward Through Ferguson report,” Garmendia said in a statement.

Cristina Garmendia is the Equity Indicators project manager of St. Louis.
Credit St. Louis mayor's office
Cristina Garmendia is the Equity Indicators project manager of St. Louis.

Before coming to St. Louis, Garmendia was a research fellow at Rutgers Law School studying equity. She has a degree in public policy from Harvard University and a degree in architecture from Washington University.

The Equity Indicators project is a collaboration with City University New York, Institute for State and Local Governance, The Rockefeller Foundation and 100 Resilient Cities. 

Program organizers in June selected St. Louis as one of five cities to receive funds to study equity. The other cities included, Dallas, Oakland, California, Pittsburgh and Tulsa, Oklahoma.The project will operate under a two-year, $3.5-million Rockefeller Foundation grant distributed among the cities involved in the project.

Krewson said the tool would help track the cities progress in targeting problems of “debilitating racial disparities” across communities.

In October, St. Louis leaders approved a resolution to assess proposals, with how they affect people of color in mind. City Hall staffers, managers, directors and commissioners have undergone racial equity training.

Krewson spokesman Koran Addo said Wednesday the project focuses on issues that should have been addressed in previous years.

“We want to get to a point where we can’t predict someone’s health outcomes or education outcomes or life expectancy just based on the ZIP code where they live,” Addo said.

Ashley Lisenby is part of the public radio collaborative “Sharing America,” covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This new initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in Hartford, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Portland (Oregon). Follow Ashley on Twitter @aadlisenby.

Ashley Lisenby is the news director of St. Louis Public Radio.