CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A special commission tasked with making the City of Charleston more equitable has come up with nearly a hundred recommendations to make the city a better place to live. It’s a project that’s been in the works for more than a year dating back to June of 2020 when city council voted to create the commission.
Criminal justice reform, housing, and economic empowerment are just some of the areas the commission is recommending changes be made to improve equity for all residents in the City of Charleston. Leaders say the changes won’t be easy but they’re ready to get to work.
The Emanuel 9, the Calhoun Statue, riots and civil unrest are just some of the examples of why some say Charleston needs to become more equitable.
“I think that we’ve put too much sweat and tears into this to just let it slip,” says City of Charleston Councilman and Co-Chair of the commission, William Dudley Gregorie. “We will never have this opportunity again.”
Months of work and dozens of Charleston leaders used the time to take a hard look at aspects of the city they believe need to be improved. They put together a 500 page report containing the findings of the commission’s work.
“Workaround equity, inclusion and racial conciliation, them voting these recommendations down would be a slap in the face,” says Crystal Rouse, a member of the commission.
The final report includes hundreds of changes across various aspects of the city ranging from criminal justice reform to youth education, community resources and more.
Some of the recommendations aim to add value for black business owners, change zoning for affordable housing and increase educational opportunities for youth. Co-Chairman and Councilman Jason Sakran says the recommendations are likely to change before reaching a final vote from City Council as a whole.
“Not every one of these recommendations will make it to full council, I just to be clear to everybody,” says Councilman Sakran. “We have to decide. Some of the recommendations I’ve read to be quite honest aren’t even in the germane or relevant to city council.”
A year in and the work is likely just beginning for the committee. Leaders say they’re facing an uphill battle but are ready to make some changes.
“This is bigger than any election or anyone that’s participating,” says Councilman Gregorie. “So I’m all in.”
The recommendations approved by the commission will be sent to sub-committees within city council to decide if any fine-tuning are potential changes need to be done before sending them to city council as a whole for a vote.
The final report can be viewed here.