HUD Region VIII Commemorates 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act

[Photo: Regional Administrator Rick Garcia and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, holding award]
Regional Administrator Rick Garcia and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, holding award

The HUD Denver Regional Office marked the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with a very special guest speaker. Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock delivered an inspiring keynote address at this year's Commemoration. His message centered on his own personal experience with housing discrimination as a child and the social progress he now cultivates as the Mile High City Mayor.

This internal event was open to only HUD staff and a few key partners in the local community. The following special guests were among the audience of more than 100 HUD staffers: GSA Regional Administrator, Sue Damour; Regional Representative to the Secretary of the Dept. of Labor, Dusti Gurule; U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, John Walsh; Colorado Civil Rights Division Director, Steven Chavez; Denver Metro Fair Housing Center Executive Director, Arturo Alvarado; and representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Senator Mark Udall, Congressman Jared Polis and Senator Mike Bennet.

Rocky Mountain Regional Administrator Rick Garcia, in his opening remarks, said, "As we celebrate this milestone, it is important that all Americans, and particularly us as federal stewards of this law, pause and reflect on how far we've come in the last five decades and recommit ourselves to the work that remains ahead."

In front of a captive audience, Mayor Hancock spoke candidly about his memories of the discrimination his mother faced as a divorced, African American woman with 10 children. He described in emotional detail, the pain of watching landlords turn his family away, and the joy he experienced when his family finally had a place to call "home." That home, happened to be located in public housing, and as Mayor Hancock said, "…would provide the stability and dignity necessary as a young child, to radically alter the course of my life."

Mayor Hancock also described several initiatives the City and County of Denver have put in place to improve access to affordable housing and decrease the enormous amount of funds committed to caring for a relatively small number of un-sheltered individuals. "Currently 300 people cost the city of Denver roughly $11 million dollars," the Mayor noted as he spoke about the importance of embracing a housing-first model.

The Denver Homeownership Center's Program Operations & Customer Service Director, Elaine Roberts said, "I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the event and found the Mayor's remarks to be very inspiring." She went on to say, "My 19 year old daughter can't believe that there was a time in our nation like the Civil Rights Movement and I think even that speaks volumes to the progress we've made in the last 50 years."   

The Mayor concluded his remarks by recognizing the outstanding contributions the Department and in particular, HUD's Denver Regional Office, have made to champion progress and continue the spirit of the Civil Rights Act. The event reaffirmed the significance of the agency's mission to improve the quality of life for all Americans through accessible, affordable housing.


Content Archived: January 5, 2016