With the appointment of Edward Augustus Jr. to serve as the Commonwealth’s next secretary of housing, Governor Maura Healey’s Cabinet is now complete (“Healey appoints housing secretary,” Business, May 16). However, this appointment, in particular, is a missed opportunity to appoint a person of color who has lived the experience of our state’s housing inequities. A report found that 57 percent of Latinos in Massachusetts are burdened by their housing costs, and about one-fourth live below the poverty line. Black and Hispanic renters in particular were twice as likely as their white counterparts to fall behind on housing payments and twice as likely to report being at risk of eviction.
Augustus has undoubtedly done some great things throughout his career, including as Worcester’s city manager. But isn’t that always the excuse for hiring the white guy over the person of color? Experience begets experience, so how else are bold new BIPOC leaders supposed to demonstrate what they can do? Healey had a pool of incredibly talented BIPOC leaders from whom to choose right here in our backyard, such as Thaddeus Miles of MassHousing; Juana Matias, regional administrator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Linda Dorcena Forry, former Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Housing and formerly of Suffolk Construction; and at least 10 others.
As the first woman and first openly LGBTQ person ever elected governor of Massachusetts, Healey had the potential with her incoming administration to be truly bold and transformative. This is a missed opportunity.
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