In the spring of 1953, Mayor Paul G. Goebel and the Grand Rapids City Commission appointed a Human Relations Study Committee. The committee was created to study the need for and outline a possible program for a permanent Human Relations Commission. The Study Committee submitted a report with recommendations to create the Human Relations Commission.
In April of 1955, the City Commission established a fifteen-member Human Relations Commission. Its many responsibilities included:
-Fostering mutual understanding and respect among all racial, religious and nationality groups
-Discouraging and preventing discriminatory practices among any such groups or any of its members.
In 1968, the Community Relations Commission (CRC) was created.
Responsibilities of the Community Relations Commission have greatly expanded since its establishment. The Commission serves as an advisory, operational and quasi-judicial body. It has a variety of duties relating to civil rights. Included are:
-investigation of complaints of discrimination and related concerns (which it can perform itself or delegate to staff)
-research and recommendations on discrimination and remedies for it
-educational and programmatic initiatives and activities.
The CRC is also the body to whom the City Commission has delegated the quasi-judicial duty of conducting hearings and making decisions on issues involving compliance with a number of City policies, including:
-Equal Business Opportunity policies (600-15 and 600-12)
-The Investment Policy (400-01)
-Tax Abatement Policy (900-09).
To function in an autonomous capacity to the City Commission and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion by actively supporting, promoting, reviewing and monitoring equal opportunity, affirmative action and non-discriminatory activities, thereby insuring the fair and equitable treatment and availability of services to all Grand Rapids citizens, which enables them to be valued for their supreme worth.
The Community Relations Commission was established to eliminate prejudice and discrimination; to keep all citizens informed of developments in the community; to give expert advice and assistance to elected officials in adopting measures to keep peace, good order and harmony among citizens; to avoid inter-group tensions, promote good will; and ensure equality of treatment and opportunities to all, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, handicap, lawful source of income or gender orientation.
• Investigate complaints;
• Conduct public hearings;
• Discourage and prevent discriminatory practices;
• Conduct research;
• Provide community education;
• Release and issue reports and public service announcements;
• Cooperate with federal, state and local governments and agencies.
Who May File A Complaint?
Any persons who feel they have been discriminated against based upon race, color, creed, sex, national origin, age, height, weight, familial status, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, or lawful source of income may file a complaint with the Community Relations Commission (CRC). The scope of the CRCs jurisdiction for complaints is limited to those alleged discriminatory acts occurring within the city limits of Grand Rapids.
Notice: The authority by which the CRC can investigate citizen complaints can be found in City of Grand Rapids Ordinance No. 94-18. The CRC does not have enforcement powers to compel any action, hence, any resolution of complaints is based upon the willingness of the parties to resolve their issue(s).
• Persons may file a complaint directly with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI) or may request to be placed on the CRC agenda.
• The CRC (or staff if the CRC so designates) will investigate the complaint and make findings & recommendations.
• The CRC will make the final decision regarding the outcome of a complaint and take the necessary actions to resolve the matter.
Questions or concerns about the filing of a complaint, should be directed to the City of Grand Rapids Office of Diversity and Inclusion Department at (616) 456-3027.