Marty Walsh names MIT lecturer Karilyn Crockett Boston’s first-ever chief of equity

Boston’s first-ever chief of equity, Karilyn Crockett, is “a brilliant innovator and change-maker” who will fight racial inequities in city government, Mayor Martin Walsh said, announcing her appointment.

“For far too long Boston City Hall has been an agent of racism, exclusion and old crony-gatekeeping of the city’s prosperity and power,” said Crockett, a Dorchester native and graduate of Boston Public Schools.

“Today is a somber day to recognize that painful and enduring truth. Today is also a day … to move toward change,” she added.

Crockett will lead the city’s new equity and inclusion Cabinet-level office to explore the “overlapping inequities of race, ethnicity, immigration, language and gender,” Walsh said.

The Yale-educated MIT lecturer holds multiple degrees, has a background in urban planning and is a Walsh administration alum — where she formerly worked as the director of economic policy. Crockett helped create the city’s first equity staffing program to increase diversity hires and Walsh said she “understands the root of racial inequality and the tools we need to break it down” in Boston.

“She will apply an equity lens to make sure everything our city government does is dismantling systemic racism and creating fair opportunity for all Bostonians,” Walsh said.

The appointment comes on the heels of a jarring report by City Life/Vida Urbana and MIT warning of a “tidal wave” of evictions once the current pandemic-era moratorium ends — likely in mid-August.

City Life Executive Director Lisa Owens said during a web conference on Monday that the housing court is predicting 20,000 evictions could be filed once the ban lifts, but cautioned actual numbers will be much higher as immigrant renters — unaware of their rights — are often evicted outside of the judicial process.

“Our data shows that communities of color are more vulnerable to evictions and burdensome rents and that it’s due in large part of a history of being excluded from housing opportunities,” Walsh said on Monday, calling on the Legislature to extend the temporary ban.

Boston has already provided more that $8 million to renters struggling to make ends meet. Gov. Charlie Baker has also expanded an emergency rental assistance fund, but Walsh said more aid is needed.

State Reps. Mike Connolly, D-Cambridge, and Kevin Honan, D-Boston, intend to introduce a legislative package that that would extend the moratorium and freeze rents for a year. It would also provide foreclosure protections to landlords.

Walsh vowed to “take a deeper look inside of our systems to root out the racist legacy, rebuild those systems and to create equitable opportunities here in Boston” with the knew equity office.

“I told her anytime … we have an obstacle or a barrier that needs to be torn down, we will tear it down together,” Walsh says of his commitment to working with Crockett on increasing equity in Boston.

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