Offices and homes near park benches and a walking path

Healthy Communities

Everyone wants to live in a healthy and vibrant community. One where people can thrive as well as feel safe and supported. One where people have opportunities for financial wellbeing.

Healthy neighborhoods include:

  • Access to healthy foods
  • Options for walking and biking
  • Safe housing
  • A sense of connection and belonging
  • Safe places to be physically active, play and relax

Without a doubt, we will feel the economic impacts of COVID-19 for many years. These will need to be addressed in order to create more equitable opportunities in:

  • Employment
  • Barriers to higher education
  • Finding a job and livable wages

Our approach:

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    Definition

    Land use is defined as the economic and cultural activities that are practiced at a given place. Examples of activities include agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and recreational uses.

    Zoning is how the government regulates land.

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    Why This Matters

    Land use decisions affect:

    • Air quality
    • Traffic safety
    • Water quality
    • Physical activity
    • Mental health

    Land use decisions today tend to be driven by economic development. This results in a separation between land use planning and public health.  This separation has had broad impacts on community health. Effects of these impacts have been harsher for communities of color and lower-income communities.

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    Why This Matters

    Having places for people to gather and connect is more important than ever. This is even more so the case for communities impacted by gentrification. 

    We want places where everyone feels welcome to play, create and gather. This includes making sure places are accessible to people with disabilities.

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    Why This Matters

    Access to reliable and affordable internet services is a basic need in today’s world. It is required for education and economic opportunities.

    Internet access in rural areas is often out of reach. It can be very costly in places where it does exist.  This strategy aims to address this problem.

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    Definition

    Support services include:

    • Housing and food assistance
    • Health care
    • Child care and employment
    • Education
    • Financial supports
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    Why This Matters

    People with low income have to deal with many different agencies to access needed support for services like housing and food. Finding their way through these systems can take a lot of time.  This is even more so the case for people who are working more than one job, do not have paid time off, or who use public transportation. The challenge is even greater for families with young children.

    Having services like child care, food pantries or housing programs at or near health clinics help lessen challenges for families. 

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    Why This Matters

    Art and cultural events are part of what make communities thrive.  These events increase our connection to each other. They help us celebrate each other’s traditions.

    Events should be accessible to all. They should respond to social needs. Also, they should be promoted through outreach that is specific to different communities.

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    Definition

    Climate resilience is being able to cope with the stress and changes created by climate change.

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    Why This Matters

    All people in Oregon are being impacted by climate change.  Communities of color, low income and rural communities are especially impacted. These disparities need to be better understood and addressed for all communities to be healthy.  

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    Definition

    Community-based mentoring is an approach where a mentor meets a youth in the community such as a church, community facility or by taking the youth to community events.

    Peer delivered services refers to social services provided by people or family members to other people or family members with similar life experiences.

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    Why This Matters

    The presence of a caring, consistent adult in a young person’s life has a huge impact.  Mentoring programs improve lives because they:

    • Increase a sense of belonging
    • Improve self-esteem
    • Build social and emotional skills
    • Strengthen resiliency

    Intergenerational mentoring is an approach that pairs older adults with youth. This approach supports youth and lessens loneliness for older adults. It also helps older adults feel respected, valued and included.

    Also, peer delivered services are more and more being recognized for their value. This is because peers can often help one another in ways that professionals cannot.

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    Why This Matters

    Social connection and loneliness impact the health of older adults.  Older adults without regular contact with others face a higher risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and even death.

    There are programs that address social connections in older adults in Oregon. These programs can be expanded and fully funded.

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    Definition

    Toxic stress means strong, repeated and/or long lasting exposure to adversity, including violence or neglect, in childhood. Toxic stress can impact the way the brain responds to stress in the future.

    Protective factors is a term used in trauma-informed programs. These factors include:

    • Family resilience
    • Social and cultural supports
    • Social connections
    • Parenting support
    • Social and emotional development in children
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    Why This Matters

    Trauma and stress have an adverse impact on health. Brain science is clear about how early stress and trauma can negatively affect brain development. It can also affect lifelong outcomes in education, income and health.

    This strategy aims to increase community awareness about brain science and the role of protective factors to lessen harmful stress. 

     

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    Why This Matters

    Examples of workforce development and higher education include:

    • Job training
    • Vocational programs
    • Community college
    • Universities
    • Continuing education

    Income inequality is a serious problem in our state. The poorest 20% of households in Oregon earned just 4% of total earnings in the state in 2016. The richest 20% of households earned 49% of the total earnings.*

    We also know many people face significant barriers in accessing higher education. This strategy aims to increase investment to create more opportunities for affected populations.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/ABOUT/Documents/sha/state-health-assessment-full-report.pdf  page 22

 

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    Why This Matters

    Income inequality has direct ties to health. Americans in the bottom 25% of income distribution die an average of 13 years younger than those in the top 25%.* Income distribution is the equality with which income is dealt out among members of a society. Institutional racism creates and continues income inequality.

    To reduce poverty, it is crucial to create jobs and wealth in communities that have historically not had access.  Some of the many ways to do this are:

    • Support businesses owned by BIPOC-AI/AN
    • Support entrepreneurship in rural communities
    • Increase job opportunities for people with disabilities

* https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/10/opinion/coronavirus-us-economy-inequality.html

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    Definition

    Financial literacy means being able to manage money in an effective way.

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    Why This Matters

    Financial practices can discriminate. For instance, giving higher car and mortgage loans to people of color. Some financial services target low income communities. Some examples are pay day loans or pawn shops. 

    A steady income is one of the most important factors in keeping people healthy. This strategy aims to educate and empower people to understand their financial rights.