Monday, April 9, 2012

Housing & Health for People of Color in Portland

“Creating safe and decent places to live can have incredibly positive effects on a family's health, on study habits of students, and on a neighborhood's overall attractiveness and stability.”-Jimmy Carter, Decent Housing is not Just a Wish, it is a Human Right

The Oregon Humanities brown bag discussion on June 23, 2011 brought together three scholars to discuss, among other issues, the impact of poverty and housing discrimination on the health and vitality of children of color. According to the presenters, housing discrimination remains a key mechanism for maintaining racial segregation, and along with it, a host of other deleterious social ills. Their conclusion: discrimination in housing affects children’s health because it typically means that impoverished people of color live in dense urban areas with higher levels of social stress and environmental pollution.

To the point, Portland Metro area’s history of housing and wage discrimination has resulted in significantly lower levels of income and wealth for people of color. With reduced access and little left in stretched budgets for health care, people of color in the Metro area experience higher rates of infant mortality and teen birth, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and prostate cancer deaths. According to the Multnomah County, Racial & Ethnic Disparities, 2011 Update, intervention strategies related to health and access to economic, educational, employment, and housing opportunities will be necessary to address the 22 health disparities for people of color in the Metro area.

At United Way of the Columbia-Willamette we realize that many of the problems facing our community are complex and interconnected. Through our Community Impact Fund we research and identify the most effective projects and collaborations that address issues of education, income and health, providing funds, and technical assistance, and promoting system change. Through efficient use of donor dollars we encourage collaborative relationships and leverage resources for use in addressing some of the most challenging social issues in our community.

United Way funds innovative projects that promote healthy environments and assist individuals and families in maintaining financial stability. Programs like Project Access NOW provide health care resources for those without, and a variety of income projects promote financial stability. United Way’s funding support not only addresses the current needs of the community but work to promote lasting change. Learn more about this work and other ways United Way seeks to advance the common good on our website.

So, what is your experience? We invite you to join in the conversation; send us your comments and feedback.

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