A new Prevention Institute (PI) brief shares key learnings from a recent summit in Los Angeles (LA) to discuss tools and strategies for supporting healthy community development without displacing current residents. The October meeting of policymakers, funders, academics, practitioners, and resident activists added a strong health frame to the ongoing conversation in LA on gentrification and displacement.
Ten years ago this weekend, the world watched as Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and laid bare the inequities that are deeply ingrained in American society. Perhaps no single event has ever highlighted the intersection between race, poverty, climate, and health as clearly as the devastation in New Orleans.
Katrina put a spotlight on an uncomfortable truth: that millions of people in this country live in abject poverty and that communities of color are far more likely to experience the consequences of the country’s entrenched inequality. In 2005, nearly 40 million Americans (roughly 1 in every 7) lived in poverty. A decade later, there has been hardly any change in the nation’s poverty rate. In Louisiana, 34% of Blacks live in poverty compared to 10% of Whites. High poverty rates have made housing less affordable, and as a result, low-income populations and communities of color often live in areas of concentrated poverty in substandard housing with the constant threat of eviction. Even though Katrina took place nearly 2,000 miles away from California, the underlying social factors that exacerbated the destruction experienced by low-income communities of color – particularly African Americans – are evident here and throughout the country.
This post originally appeared on the John Snow, Inc., blog, The Pump.
At JSI, we’ve been closely observing the shifting health care landscape and identifying promising practices and frameworks for achieving the Triple Aim (reduced per capita cost, improved experience of care, and improved population health) and whole-person care. One of the most interesting dialogues underway is how to better understand and respond to social determinants of health (SDOH). The evidence keeps growing indicating that factors outside the clinic walls such as educational opportunity and community environments play a more significant role in determining health outcomes than factors such as access to care and genetics. This has led many to contend that zip code says more about health prospects than genetic code.
From a health system perspective, there is recognition that many of the highest cost patients would be better served, and cost less, if social and clinical needs were addressed in concert. From a clinician’s perspective, there is a hunger for new approaches and tools to address circumstances outside the clinic walls that are causing and exacerbating chronic illnesses. A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded survey found that the vast majority of physicians not only see social needs as just as important to address as medical conditions but wish they could write prescriptions to address those needs.
Housing costs across the country, particularly in California, are rising at such a rate that many renters struggle on a monthly basis to afford somewhere to live. That is the primary finding from a sobering new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2015: Low Wages and High Rents Lock Renters Out.
The report determines housing affordability by examining the average monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment, which is $1,386 in California. This number ranks California third among the areas measured by the report, but the top two, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, are considerably smaller in both area and population. In order to afford that level of rent and utilities without paying more than 30% of their income on housing, the average California household must earn an hourly rate, or Housing Wage, of $26.65 for a 40 hour work week. For some perspective, those working minimum wage would have to work 118 hours a week to afford the average two-bedroom rent in California.
There are also dramatic differences between counties in California. In San Francisco County, for instance, the Housing Wage is $39.65 while in Merced County it is $14.60. However, average income also varies substantially between counties, so housing remains equally unaffordable. For example, in San Francisco, a household would need 1.2 full-time jobs at the median wage earned by renters in the county to afford a two-bedroom apartment. In Merced, despite the lower housing costs, a household would need 1.3 full-time jobs at the median wage earned by renters in the county to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
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At CPEHN, much of our work has a focus on the social and environmental determinants of health. We know that health is about so much more than what happens in a doctor’s office; it is the result of our surroundings where we live, work, and learn.
“Living in a neighborhood with sidewalks, pedestrian-friendly traffic patterns, and convenient public transportation makes it easier to be active and access important services. Residents in low-income areas are communities of color are often less likely to own a car, so they may rely more on public transportation to go to work, the doctor or the grocery store. … It is important to create safe streets for all users, using sidewalks, dedicated bike paths, and traffic calming measures to make it safer and easier to bike or walk to school and other activities and services.”
For today’s Tuesday Tidbits we’re focusing on a new funding opportunity that focuses on affordable housing and sustainable communities. This past week, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, in conjunction with the Strategic Growth Council, announced the availability of $120 million in funds for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program.