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Hempstead Village approves affirmative action policy

The Hempstead Village Board recently approved a policy

The Hempstead Village Board recently approved a policy that requires consideration of minority- and women-owned businesses before awarding public contracts. Credit: Danielle Silverman

The Hempstead Village board of trustees voted unanimously to adopt an affirmative action policy for the majority-minority municipality.

The board voted May 31 after months of urging by community members to install a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) policy for public contracts.

The law now requires that the village includes minority and women-owned businesses in its solicitations and “take affirmative steps, when possible” to ensure that they have “full participation” in the procurement process. The village must also recruit, hire, train, place and promote employees and administer personnel “without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, creed, marital status, ancestry, sex, age, disability or sexual preference.”

Luis Mendez has been asking the board for months to adopt such a policy, especially as the village seeks grants that may have affirmative action requirements.

“I think as a majority-minority village, it was time for this to happen,” said Mendez, director of social equity and community outreach for Renaissance Downtowns USA. The organization is the national arm of Renaissance Downtowns, which is involved in the village’s downtown revitalization.

Mendez, who is also the general adviser of the Long Island Hispanic Soccer Federation and a founding member of Empowering Young Professionals of Long Island, said he will continue to be an advocate.

“I think the rules behind it and the enforcement will be a major component to this,” he said.

Of Hempstead’s more than 55,000 residents, 47.9 percent are black and 45 percent are Hispanic or Latino, according to 2016 Census population estimates. Female residents make up 52.1 percent of the village’s population.

Mayor Don Ryan said in a statement Wednesday that the village “has always been an equal opportunity employer” that follows state law.

“Simply put, the Board memorialized their commitment to affirmative action by adopting a policy that affords all a place at the Village table,” he said.

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