Public Health

Health serves as one of the  unifying frameworks for Urban Strategies Council, informing our work across all issue areas and anchoring our mission to eliminate persistent poverty by working with partners to transform low-income neighborhoods into vibrant, healthy communities.

A long and impressive body of research literature has highlighted the profound ways in which social factors influence health. The length and quality of life for whole populations are largely determined by the extent and quality of their education, their job status and financial stability, the quality of their housing, their access to fresh and affordable foods, and the safety of their neighborhoods. We recognize the social, economic, and political processes by which good and poor health are produced, and the relationship between racial injustice and unequal distributions of health-related risks and opportunities. Across our program areas, we work to hold systems and institutions accountable for health-negating conditions in East Bay communities and to reduce the disproportionate impact that place has on the health of people of color.

Income & Asset Development
and
Health

Income and wealth are strong predictors of how long we can expect to live and what the quality of that life might be. Income determines the quality of our housing, food, transportation, and other basic services necessary to maintaining a healthy life. Wealth is a related concept also tied to economic security but concerns the ability to save, access credit, develop assets, and transfer resources to subsequent generations. High-wage, high-quality employment opportunities are not evenly distributed, and wealth-depleting products and services are concentrated in the same high-poverty communities of color with low relative life expectancy and higher rates of chronic disease.

Health
and
Housing

Issues of overcrowding, quality, displacement, and homelessness are closely connected to the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area. Aside from the health consequences associated with the economic burden of housing, many families are also forced to accept uninhabitable conditions that promote illness and poor mental health. These issues are concentrated in communities of color and disproportionately impact residents who already suffer from the worst health outcomes.

Violence
Prevention
and
Health

Cycles of concentrated violent crime and incarceration have burdened entire communities for generations. This chaotic legacy, tied closely to a lack of economic opportunity for residents and public and institutional disinvestment, has clear public health consequences, with the impact of violent crime and incarceration being felt immediately. However, public health literature is increasingly turning our attention to the high levels of toxic stress and poor mental health outcomes concentrated in neighborhoods with high exposure to crime and decreased levels of trust and social cohesion.

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