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York City human relations group moving to West York
After being asked to leave the office it borrowed for seven years from York County, the York City Human Relations Commission has found a new home in West York.
The commission will now operate out of the borough building at 1381 W. Poplar St. after the mayors of both municipalities struck an agreement over lunch.
At a news conference Wednesday, West York Mayor Shawn Mauck said the move is a “gift to both municipalities,” with the commission paying no overhead costs and West York residents getting a new range of anti-discrimination services.
The York City Human Relations Commission is tasked with investigating complaints of unlawful discriminatory practices in housing, employment and public accommodations in the city and enforcing the city’s anti-discrimination ordinances.
Mauck said he hopes the partnership between the city and his borough could lead to more cooperation between other municipalities in the county to provide more and better services.
“When all of us come together for a common goal, the results are always so much better,” he said.
Mauck, who took over as mayor after Charles Wasko, said the York City Human Relations Commission and York City Mayor Kim Bracey were “true partners” to him when he was thrust into the spotlight last fall after The York Dispatch brought Wasko’s racist Facebook posts to light.
Upon becoming mayor, Mauck said, he and the borough made a promise to residents.
“Many of you know that I was put front and center in a public display of hate last year,” Mauck said Wednesday. “We promised our community that we would continue a dialogue and put forward true meaningful help. This, today, makes good on that promise.”
New chapter: Bracey and Karen Rollins-Fitch, acting chair of the commission, attended Wednesday's news conference with Mauck.
Rollins-Fitch thanked York County administration officials for their generosity in providing free office space, as well as Mauck and Bracey for giving the commission a new beginning.
“As the commission enters this new chapter in its growth and development, we are excited by the opportunity that has presented itself,” she said. “We will have a home in West York to provide our services to the residents of the borough, while continuing to fight the evil of discrimination that presents itself right here.”
Rollins-Fitch said the commission will not neglect York City residents after the move is completed, and she hopes the move will help alleviate some of the workload on the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, which takes cases from York County that are outside the commission’s jurisdiction.
Bracey said the office’s location will be the only change within the human relations group and assured residents that the commission will continue to have a strong presence within the city.
This collaboration of resources represents the start of a “newfound alliance” between York City and West York, as officials look to curb the recent uptick in discriminatory activities, Bracey said, pointing to the reported racial harassment of students at the York County School of Technology following the presidential election.
Enforced move: Last month, the commission was asked to vacate its basement office in the county administrative center by the end of March to make room for an expansion at the county’s Office of Children, Youth and Families.
The York County Department of Veterans Affairs will move into the basement office from its location on the first floor of the county’s human services building that it shares with CYF.
Mauck said commission members and borough officials have started setting up the new office at the former Grace Loucks Elementary School. They will try to complete the move as soon as possible, but the commission will be up and running within 60 days, Mauck said.
The West York Borough Council will now look to adopt anti-discrimination ordinances similar to those in the city, and Mauck said he expects West York residents to have full representation and participation in the commission, including membership.