Boston gets federal grants to fight structural racism in public health

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Policy

Boston Public Health Commission funding will be used to develop equitable responses and preventions for homelessness and substance use disorders.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley. Patrick Semansky/AP, file

Boston is receiving increased federal funding that will be used to address structural racism in public health, particularly as it relates to homelessness and substance use disorders.

  • Ayanna Pressley and Elizabeth Warren renew efforts to pass anti-racism public health bill

The US Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $492,838 to the Boston Public Health Commission. The funding is part of a batch of federal grants, totaling more than $4.8 million, awarded by HHS to 10 community organizations across the country to address policies that may create or perpetuate disparities in health and contribute to structural racism.

According to lawmakers, the “first of its kind” funding is informed by the “Anti-Racism in Public Health Actwhich Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed with their California colleague, Rep. Barbara Lee. The legislation, which politicians first introduced in 2020 and then reintroduced last year, would require the federal government to begin developing race-conscious public health approaches through two programs within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This one-of-a-kind funding will help community organizations across the country develop anti-racism health policy to address the crisis that has threatened our communities, denied access to quality health care, and exacerbated racial disparities. long standing in health outcomes,” Pressley said in a statement. “I am thrilled that the Boston Public Health Commission is receiving this funding, which will allow them to do this vital work right here in 7th Massachusetts, and I am proud to have partnered with Senator Warren and Representative Lee to help do these investments in the fight against racism a reality.

According to a statement, the Boston Public Health Commission will use the funding to develop equitable responses and preventions to homelessness and substance use disorders.

The commission will also direct the money toward reducing the “inequitable burden of homelessness, substance use disorders, and related issues on communities of color in Boston.”

“This new federal funding will provide the Boston Public Health Commission with the tools needed to address health care disparities in Massachusetts,” Warren said in a statement. “I am delighted that the provisions we have set out in our Anti-Racism in Public Health Act are being used to address inequities and discrimination in our health care system. »

Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, public health commissioner and executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said in a statement that structural racism is a root cause of homelessness.

“Pervasive racism in prison, health, housing, education and other systems has led to disparities in homelessness among people of color,” she said. “This funding will allow the Boston Public Health Commission to address policies and practices that contribute to housing inequality. Additionally, this funding will support the evaluation of ongoing efforts to develop interventions for Boston residents with substance use disorders, mental health issues, and unprotected status.

Boston isn’t the only place in New England to see funding to address health disparities and structural racism in health care.

The City of Hartford received $500,000 and First Candle, Inc., a nonprofit organization in New Canaan, Connecticut, i.e. focused on the “end” of Sudden Infant Death Syndromereceives $385,094.

According to lawmakers, HHS funding is to be rewarded as part of the ministry’s Community-Driven Approaches to Address Factors Contributing to Structural Racism in Public Health initiative, a pilot program inspired by legislation proposed by Pressley, Warren and Lee. Recipients will be required to demonstrate the impacts of funding on outcomes and the overarching goal of advancing health equity.

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