As Dianne Cleaver retires from Urban Neighborhood Initiative, the need for affordable housing remains
Cleaver has led UNI's initiative since its founding in 2012.
The goal of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative is to break the cycles of poverty and racial inequity in Kansas City's urban core.
During Cleaver's tenure with the organization as its president and CEO, her main focus has been revitalizing 10 different neighborhoods within the boundaries of Truman Road to the north, 52nd Street to the south, Troost Avenue to the west and Prospect Avenue to the east.
"Disinvestment has occurred in the neighborhoods," explains Cleaver. "They've been largely African-American neighborhoods subject to the systemic racist issues that were built into many — if not most of — our institutions, but certainly in housing."
Cleaver has spent her entire career working in human services with disadvantaged populations, an area where needs are substantial, but progress doesn't always come quickly.
"I have learned to appreciate the small steps forward," she told Up To Date host Steve Kraske, "and to recognize that it is going to take a long time."
As for what's next for Cleaver, she plans to stay involved in local civic affairs going forward, but not before a break.
"I'm going to step back and, first of all, I'm going to take a little rest. And then, I'm going to look for ways that I can have a meaningful impact without working 60 or 70 hours a week."
- Dianne Cleaver, outgoing president and CEO of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative