Policy Options In Community Development For Promoting Long-Term Health Equity

Just Economy Conference – May 14, 2021


Social determinants of health (SDOH) have become an increasing area of focus to improve population health equity and reduce total costs of care, made all the more relevant by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, the majority of disparities in morbidity and mortality in the U.S. were driven by risk factors with social influences, with one study estimating that approximately 60% of ill health was driven by social, environmental and behavioral factors. These factors are especially salient in childhood, when experiences and exposures can alter long-term developmental trajectories. Community development is one of the most important areas of policy for addressing these upstream drivers of health inequities, but has received relatively little attention in health policy debates. Join us for an overview of the evidence for community development’s role in promoting long-term health equity for children and families and a discussion of potential policy options for advancing this role to achieve gains in long-term health equity at scale in the United States.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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