How to Incorporate Equity, Diversity and Inclusion


EDI Objectives

The Strong Communities Program was created in 2022 by HB22-1304 to help communities align policies and regulations that support affordable housing and compact development and to provide funding for infill infrastructure projects that support affordable housing. The Strong Communities program creates two grant programs to support Colorado communities in achieving these goals: the Planning Grant Program and the Infrastructure Gant Program.

One of the core objectives of these programs is to remedy historical and persistent inequities in housing choice in Colorado communities. As such, applicants to both the Planning Grant and Infrastructure Grant Programs can expect to describe their stakeholder engagement strategy.

EDI Evaluation in Grant Applications

In the evaluation process, applicants will be most competitive if they have considered the needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations in designing the proposed activities to be funded by Planning and Incentive grants.

Specific to EDI goals, applicants will be evaluated on the basis of:

Grant proposal development

How the needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations were assessed in developing the grant proposals. Are data, from the Census or other surveys or interviews, on the needs of vulnerable populations available and discussed in the grant application? How have these needs been considered in program or project design?

Plans for inclusive engagement

The applicant’s plans for capturing the perspectives of marginalized and vulnerable populations if awarded a grant, especially those likely to be directly affected by the Planning and/or Incentives grant. Has the grantee thought through how marginalized and vulnerable populations are best engaged? Is an effective method of engagement proposed? Have partner organizations, community navigators, and/or cultural brokers been identified?

Funding support

How applicants will use grant funding to support a high level of inclusive and sustained engagement and partner communication throughout the project. How would funding from DOLA improve upon the engagement methods that are typically conducted in the jurisdiction?

Impact of grant activities

How applicants believe the Planning and/or Incentives grants will positively affect marginalized and vulnerable populations and how those impacts will be defined and measured. Examples: Does the applicant hope to expand rental housing opportunities for large families through the program? Improve homeownership for resident groups with historically low ownership rates? Provide temporary housing for seasonal workers?

How to Plan for Inclusive Engagement

The first step in designing an inclusive engagement process is identifying all of the possible resident groups who are or were marginalized in public decisions about land use and housing, and those who are vulnerable to the consequences of land use, zoning and/or housing policy changes. Consider race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, family or household status, limited English proficiency (LEP), gender, age, and income. This information is generally easy to gather through historical documentation and/or interviews with community navigators and cultural brokers.

The second step is to draft an inclusive community engagement plan and share that with community navigators/cultural brokers for their feedback.

Engagement tools may include:

  • Focus groups with stakeholders/community navigators;
  • One-on-one meetings with stakeholders/community navigators;
  • Development of discussion guides and presentations that stakeholders/community navigators can share with constituencies as part of their regular outreach and conversations;
  • Online and paper surveys; and
  • Secondary studies and research.

After community navigator/cultural broker input, the inclusive engagement plan should be refined.

Step three is assessing the needs of identified marginalized and vulnerable groups utilizing existing data and studies on housing needs.

Step four is to compare the expected needs to the outcomes of the proposed activities from the grant proposal and ask:

  • Will the project benefit certain groups more than others?
  • How will resident groups who have been marginalized from housing choice in the past share in these benefits?
  • If the benefits are uncertain or could be unequal, how could the project be amended to address inequities?
  • Does the project support local wealth-building for marginalized groups?

Refine the proposed activities, as needed, based on this assessment.

Step five is to “close the loop” after engagement. Invite marginalized and vulnerable communities to a special meeting to discuss what was heard from the engagement process. Summarize those needs in preparation for the grant application and share back to the participating stakeholders for their feedback.

Examples of EDI Considerations in Program Design

Sample problem statement: The method through which our community has been providing housing does not equally benefit all types of residents. Land use reform is needed to provide more equitable opportunities for homeownership by diversifying the types of housing built.

  • The current zoning sets aside nearly 80% of housing land supply for single-family housing. At least half of this housing is owned by second homeowners who are 90% White and non- Hispanic.
  • Non-White and Hispanic households have much lower homeownership rates than White households.
  • Homeownership is often a household’s single largest financial investment and a major source of household and family wealth. The historical denial of homeownership to non- White and Hispanic households has prevented wealth-building through homeownership.
  • Non-White and Hispanic households earn significantly less than White households.
  • The median sales price of a single family home is affordable to 80% of White households but just 35% of Non-White and Hispanic households.
  • The median price of a townhome is affordable to many more non-White and Hispanic households. Surveys of non-White and Hispanic households found strong demand for townhomes.
  • Single-family housing uses more land per unit, limiting capacity and choices while driving up cost. It limits the supply of housing for marginalized residents.

Sample problem statement: Housing that is accessible for persons with disabilities makes up just 5% of the housing stock because our housing stock is older and our town was developed without mobility in mind. We need a comprehensive housing and infrastructure plan to guide future development and public investments.

  • Residents with disabilities, including our aging residents, face significant challenges to finding housing that accommodates their needs.
  • Focus groups with persons with disabilities identified areas in the town that are inaccessible due to broken or non-continuous sidewalks.
  • A “disability centered” focus for housing and infrastructure will be considered in all future subarea plans.


For more information on these definitions, see PolicyLink.

Community engagement
Community engagement is a broad term that captures the wide variety of activities a jurisdiction may undertake to involve residents in plans or decisions that affect their wellbeing. Community engagement may include open public meetings; smaller, targeted discussions with specific resident groups (“focus groups”); online discussion forums; online/mail/phone community HB22-1304 Infrastructure & Strong Communities: Equity, Diversity & Inclusion DOLA Local Government Infrastructure & Strong Communities Infrastructure Grant Program (07.12.23) 4 surveys; in-person surveys; opportunities for community members to “drop by” and visit with planning staff; and activities or discussions that are part of regularly scheduled events (“tagging on” to an existing meeting).

Community navigators/cultural brokers
All resident groups have trusted people in their communities. These could include religious leaders, schoolteachers, local business owners, activists, leaders of nonprofit organizations, community elders, and everyday citizens. Sometimes these individuals lead or are affiliated with organizations.

Equitable outcomes occur when intentional strategies are put in place to ensure that everyone who desires to can participate in and benefit from decisions that shape their neighborhoods and communities.

Equity is different from equality. Equal engagement means that access to the engagement is the same across resident groups—e.g., anyone who travels to or joins a community meeting is let in. Equitable engagement is sensitive to the differing needs of resident groups and designed to mitigate barriers to participation—e.g., meetings are held at several locations (to include residents who cannot travel far), at a variety of times (to accommodate work and school schedules), and on multiple days which may include weekends (to accommodate work and school schedules).

Elements of equitable meetings include, but are not limited to:

• Holding community meetings in locations that are welcoming and comfortable for all types of residents. Meeting venues should be accessible to persons with disabilities, easy to find, near public transit, and frequented by marginalized and vulnerable populations (e.g., community centers, public schools, neighborhood libraries, places of worship, locally owned restaurants). Controversial locations, where decisions may have occurred that harmed marginalized or vulnerable populations, should be avoided. If meetings are held virtually, both phone and computer participation should be accommodated;

  • Promoting the meetings in the languages most often spoken and read by marginalized and vulnerable populations. This could include multi-language flyers, multi-language social media posts, and radio announcements;
  • Offering language interpretation (in languages other than English and in methods needed by persons with disabilities) if requested;
  • Providing child care upon request; and
  • Compensating attendees to recognize the value of their time (e.g., through provision of food and beverages, gift cards, bus passes).

Marginalized and vulnerable populations
These residents have historically been left out of decisions that affect their wellbeing. These residents are often people of color, native communities, persons with disabilities, women, and residents who identify as other than heterosexual and/or cisgender. Exclusion from decisions occurs because these populations are discriminated against, are not represented in decision- making bodies, their viewpoints are discounted or ignored, and/or opportunities to collect public input occur when least convenient for them (e.g., during night shift work hours). Many thanks to Root Policy Research for drafting this guide and to Plan Tools, LLC and SE Group for reviewing and contributing to the qualifying strategy guides. Please reach out to DLG program staff if you have additional questions or would like to share your best practice with other communities.


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