Yale Urban Nature as a Health Resource: Evidence to Action Feb 2-6 2015

January 30th, 2015

Urban Nature as a Health Resource Yale

The Hixon Center for Urban Ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, in partnership with the Yale School of Public Health, is convening this conference to: (a) share cutting edge research on the connections between nature and health; and (b) learn from innovative programs designed to increase time in nature as a pathway to improved health. The time is now for a multi-sector partnership to bring evidence to action to leverage natural resources and improve health. Join us! Learn more about the Conference and see the updated program here.

PANEL: ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH

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Speakers

Dr. Ming Kuo, University of Illinois-Urbana

Abstract: The notion that nature is good for us has been with us since – and before – Thoreau, Olmsted, and others –– but only in recent years has science begun to actually document the impacts of exposure to nature on human health. This talk provides an overview of some of the most exciting discoveries in this area. What are the symptoms of nature deficit disorder? If vitamin N is essential, what do we know about dosage? The findings suggest that urban greening is public health, with potentially transformative implications for policy, design, and environmental justice.

Dr. Jeannette Ickovics, Yale School of Public Health

Abstract: Contact with nature can be salutogenic: enhancing health. In this data-driven presentation – I will discuss results from a population- based community health assessment in 13 towns in the greater New Haven, CT region. We measured direct and indirect effects of nature on multiple health outcomes – body mass index, number of chronic diseases, self-rated health and depressive symptoms –and examined factors that may mediate this association. Findings support the conceptual model linking nature to health via several important mediators: air quality, physical activity, social cohesion and stress (Hartig et al., Ann Rev Pub Health, 2014). Those with park access were significantly more likely to have no chronic disease, report excellent or very good health, and have no depressive symptoms – even controlling for important factors such as age, race and income. Results support upstream multi-sectoral approaches that may enhance both access to nature and improve health.

Robert García, The City Project

Abstract: President Barack Obama designated a national monument?in the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California in October 2014, emphasizing that too many children, especially children of color, don’t have access to parks; that this is an issue of health and social justice;? and that agencies are required to address these concerns. Federal agencies agree: the US Army Corps of Engineers in its billion dollar plan to green the Los Angeles River, the National Park Service in its study for a national recreation area in the San Gabriels, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on Los Angeles State Historic Park. This is a seminal moment for people, parks, and planning to promote green access, health, and equal justice. Civil rights laws offer important, underused tools to support wellness and prevention. Civil rights tools offer a powerful means to address the social determinants of health in order to protect people and the environment.

Moderator: Dr. Albert Ko, Yale School of Public Health

Reflector: Dr. Erika Svendsen, U.S. Forest Service, NYC Urban Field Station

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See The City Project’s Policy Report Using Civil Rights Tools to Address Health Disparities by Michael Rodriguez, MD, MPH; Marc Brenman; Marianne Engelman Lado, JD; and Robert García, JD.

Uptown Funk Student Dance Video Not Your Parents’ Physical Education

January 29th, 2015

Teacher and students at A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School in Dallas, Texas, in dance video set to ”Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

uptownfunkschool

The City Project works with diverse allies including California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD), Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and USC public policy grad students on physical education compliance in public schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Expectations: Using Green Infrastructure to Improve Equity in Underserved Communities. New Partners for Smart Growth, Baltimore

January 28th, 2015

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Raising Expectations: Using Green Infrastructure to Improve Equity in Underserved Communities

Moderator
Richard Dolesh, Vice President for Conservation and Parks, National Recreation and Park Association
Speakers
Robert García, Founding Director and Counsel, The City Project
Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, FASLA, LEED AP, Principal, WRT | Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC
Robin Corathers, Executive Director, Groundwork Cincinnati
Brad Buschur, Project Director, Groundwork Lawrence

Parks, public spaces and greenways offer extraordinary opportunities to advance equity in underserved and environmental-justice communities through green infrastructure projects. Many cities and metropolitan areas are beginning to realize the potential that parks, public spaces and green corridors have to contribute lower-cost solutions for stormwater management, resiliency and environmental health. This session will provide participants practical knowledge on how to infuse equity principles into new green infrastructure and greenway projects; promote community-driven engagement and environmental health; encourage connectivity and active transportation choices; facilitate community-defined visions for the built environment; leverage green infrastructure spending for enhanced open space and recreational benefits; provide funding for projects from non-traditional funding sources; and reduce costs of traditional gray infrastructure through innovative design. Examples will be provided from both large and small-scale green infrastructure and greenway projects. If you’re developing greenways or green infrastructure solutions, don’t miss this informative and practical workshop.

Date and Times: Saturday, January 31, 2015, 10:15-12:15 am ET
Location: Key BR 9
Level: Intermediate
Accredited by: CM 2.0PDH/HSW 2.0

See NRPA President Obama The San Gabriel Mountains: A National Monument for All, Parks & Recreation Magazine

See The City Project’s Policy Report Using Civil Rights Tools to Address Health Disparities by Michael Rodriguez, MD, MPH; Marc Brenman; Marianne Engelman Lado, JD; and Robert García, JD.

New Partners for Smart Growth

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Celebrate the Civil Rights Revolution, Selma, Preserve the Disparate Impact Standard in the Supreme Court

January 27th, 2015

Celebrate the Civil Rights Revolution Selma Preserve the Disparate Impact Standard in the Supreme Court

Civil rights tools including the disparate impact standard continue to provide important safeguards for human health and life itself. See the Policy Report called Using Civil Rights Tools to Address Health Disparities by Michael Rodriguez, MD, MPH; Marc Brenman; Marianne Engelman Lado, JD; and Robert García, JD.

Fair Housing Is a Bedrock Civil Rights Protection: The Supreme Court Must Preserve the Discriminatory Impact Standard

Disparate impact is a long standing safeguard for civil rights. Disparate impact is a legacy of the Civil Right Movement. Click here for the Policy Report called Celebrate The Civil Rights Revolution: The Struggle Continues by Robert García and Ariel Collins.

Photo The Selma to Montgomery March, Photo Tile in The Civil Rights Park, Los Angeles 2014

Fair Housing Is a Bedrock Civil Rights Protection: The Supreme Court Must Preserve the Discriminatory Impact Standard

January 21st, 2015

Fair housing is a bedrock civil rights protection, crucial to our nation’s core values of equal opportunity, human dignity, and just democracy for all. In the face of deeply entrenched patterns of residential segregation and exclusion, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act to provide for fair housing throughout the United States. The Act has helped to free many communities from discrimination and connect millions of Americans to opportunity. Due to a variety of factors – some influenced by government, some not – many neighborhoods and communities do not reflect the diversity of our nation. Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in April 1968, in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether the Fair Housing Act will continue to protect people from all housing policies that discriminate in practice, absent proof of intentional discrimination. The Court heard arguments in the case called Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project on January 21. A decision by the Court is expected by June 2015.

This is the third time the Justices have reached out to address the unjustified discriminatory impact standard under the Fair Housing Act. (The previous two cases were settled by the parties before the Court reached a decision.) That does not mean the result is a foregone conclusion. It takes only four of the Court’s nine Justices to agree to hear a case, but a majority of five to decide the outcome of a case. Court watchers believe four members of the Court (Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) are likely to uphold the discriminatory impact standard under a strong and effective Fair Housing Act. Observers fear that the Court’s four most conservative members (Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito) could vote to weaken fair housing. As is often the case with civil rights questions, Justice Anthony Kennedy is likely to cast the deciding vote, and may write the controlling opinion.

The following analysis is based on the “friend of the court” brief filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and other civil rights advocates, including The City Project, in the Inclusive Communities Project case. The brief focuses on the discriminatory impact standard and racially segregated neighborhoods where many people reside, isolated from high-performing public schools, good jobs, safe parks and streets, a clean, healthy environment, and reliable public services.

Summary

Congress recognized that comprehensive legislation would need to target both intentional discrimination and seemingly neutral policies that have unjustified discriminatory impacts based on race, color, or national origin when it enacted the Fair Housing Act in 1968. Each form of discrimination was instrumental in creating and perpetuating the entrenched residential segregation the Act sought to eliminate. The lower courts agree that the Act’s stated purpose to end discrimination requires a discriminatory effect standard; an intent requirement would strip the statute of all impact on de facto segregation.

The Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of unjustified disparate impact remains a powerful and necessary tool for dismantling discriminatory practices and barriers to equal opportunities on a community-wide basis. While public attitudes towards residential segregation have improved in important respects, racial isolation continues to persist in ways that make the disparate impact inquiry necessary.

Conduct prohibited by the Act – both intentional acts and seemingly neutral practices – has produced and perpetuated racially segregated neighborhoods. Residential isolation has effects across generations that continue to limit the opportunities available to our children and grandchildren. Social science evidence confirms the determination of Congress that segregation is harmful and integration is beneficial to educational achievement, access to employment, personal, public, and environmental health, and other keys to a fulfilling life.

Although Attitudes About the Value of Integration Have Improved, Residential Segregation Persists

Approximately half of all high-poverty census tracts in the nation are dominated by a single racial or ethnic group. African Americans and Latinos represent 12% and 16% of the population respectively, yet they make up much smaller percentages of the residents in low-poverty census tracts. This segregation affects everyone, as it isolates people from opportunity that would enable their economic mobility and limits greater economic participation. African Americans are more racially isolated than any other racial group, with 75% of African Americans nationwide residing in only 16% of census block groups. With only one exception (the most affluent Asians), people of color at every income level live in poorer neighborhoods than do non-Hispanic white people with comparable incomes.

Patterns of segregation and exclusion prevent people from living in communities that they can afford, that would connect them to greater opportunity, and that are consistent with their preference for integration and diversity.

Residential Segregation Impairs Educational Integration and its Benefits. Equal housing opportunity is closely linked with educational diversity and achievement. Compelling evidence demonstrates that attending integrated schools is associated with a host of positive educational and life outcomes. Low-income, students of color perform better academically in diverse school settings, with improvements resulting from significant peer effects and the reduction of resource disparities. In addition, research has found that students of all racial backgrounds tend to perform better academically (measured by grades, test scores, and high school and college graduation rates) in racially integrated schools, compared to those who attend schools that are racially and socioeconomically isolated.

Residential Segregation Impedes Access to Economic Mobility. Today, segregation continues to impede access to employment and other resources, such that poverty remains entrenched and mobility out of reach to many people of color.

Residential Segregation Is Associated with Adverse Health and Environmental Effects. Racially or ethnically isolated communities are much more likely to experience environmental hazards and adverse health impacts than are integrated communities, in a way that neither housing preferences nor income and wealth gaps adequately explain. Residents of segregated communities are significantly more likely to experience high-volume releases of toxic chemicals, to breathe high concentrations of harmful air pollutants, and to live in chronically substandard, lead-painted housing. Communities of color are less likely to benefit from reliable municipal services or to enjoy access to grocery stores, private-practice healthcare facilities, and green spaces, such as parks and sports fields. Environmental justice is the enviromental arm of the civil rights movement.

Grave public health impacts – including asthma, cancer, diabetes, and infant mortality, as well as psychosocial phenomena like violent crime and post-traumatic stress disorder – are now widely viewed as environmentally mediated consequences of residential segregation.

Federal Courts of Appeals Unanimously Uphold the Disparate Impact Standard

By 1988, when Congress amended the Act, the federal courts of appeals for nine circuits had found the disparate impact standard necessary to enforce the statute. Congress knew this, and intended to prohibit unjustified discriminatory impacts.

Today, the federal courts of appeals in eleven circuits – every circuit to consider the question – have found the disparate impact standard necessary to enforce the Fair Housing Act. These courts unanimously recognize that prohibiting unjustified facially neutral policies that have significant racially discriminatory effects is necessary to achieve the integrated residential patterns sought by Congress.

Under the disparate impact standard, courts assess discriminatory effects, whether the discrimination is justified, and whether there are less discriminatory alternatives for the challenged practice. The inquiry into intent, bigotry, or motive under the intentional discrimination standard is insufficient to achieve equal opportunity and human dignity. Effect, and not intent, is the touchstone for finding a violation, in part because clever people may easily conceal their intent and motivations, but more importantly, because thoughtlessness can be as disastrous and unfair as the perversity of a willful scheme. Conduct that has the necessary and foreseeable consequence of perpetuating discrimination can be as harmful as purposefully discriminatory conduct.

Even if the problem of residential segregation is race based, most fair and effective solutions can be race neutral. On the margins, any remedies that do employ race-conscious measures can be strictly scrutinized on a case-by-case basis.

Conclusion

Without the disparate impact analysis, government and other actors would be able to pursue cleverly concealed, intentionally discriminatory acts and policies, as well as seemingly neutral policies no matter how harsh the impact, how unjustified the action, and how readily available the non-discriminatory alternatives. The adverse consequences of such a ruling would cause harm for generations. The Fair Housing Act demands that we remain conscious of the long-term legacy and effects of historical patterns of housing segregation. To eliminate discriminatory impact claims from the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws would fundamentally dismantle our nation’s civil rights protections. The civil rights struggle continues to protect equal opportunity, human dignity, and just democracy for all in and out of court.

Civil_Rights_Memorial SPLA Lin

We will not be satisfied “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” Martin Luther King, Jr. (Amos 5:24)
Civil Rights Memorial, Southern Poverty Law Center, by Maya Lin

Resources

The oral arguments before the Supreme Court are available in an audio recording and a transcript. It’s interesting reading.

Click here to download the brief by Bill Lann Lee et al., for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law and other civil rights advocates, including The City Project.

Click here to download the friend of the court brief filed by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. The LDF brief focuses on dignity, morality, and economics, the legal analysis of the discriminatory impact standard, and the constitutional strict scrutiny standard of equal protection.

Civil rights tools including the disparate impact standard continue to provide important safeguards for human health and life itself. Click here for the Policy Report called Using Civil Rights Tools to Address Health Disparities by Michael Rodriguez, MD, MPH; Marc Brenman; Marianne Engelman Lado, JD; and Robert García, JD.

Disparate impact is a long standing safeguard for civil rights. Disparate impact is a legacy of the Civil Right Movement. Click here for the Policy Report called Celebrate The Civil Rights Revolution: The Struggle Continues by Robert García and Ariel Collins.

Using Civil Rights Tools to Address Health Disparities

January 15th, 2015

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ethnic and racial health and health care disparities are persistent and pervasive. Despite a wide range of approaches to address these disparities, they remain largely intact. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) is expected to reduce disparities in access to health care and addresses health discrimination. In addition, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the cornerstone legislation that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin by recipients of federal funding, and Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice and health can be used to address health disparities. If utilized consistently and applied with renewed efforts, civil rights laws can continue to address health care issues and reduce health disparities. These legal tools cut across diverse federally funded programs and activities. This article examines four health-related areas with disparities based on race, color, or national origin: (1) food stamp programs; (2) physical education in public schools; (3) parks and healthy green land use; and (4) access to health care services for limited English proficiency (LEP) populations. Civil rights laws including Title VI offer tools that attorneys and other stakeholders working with public health professionals, community groups, government agencies, and recipients of federal funds can use to alleviate health disparities. These legal tools are not limited to a litigation strategy. Voluntary compliance with civil rights laws is the preferred means to achieve equal justice goals. Civil rights attorneys continue the struggle to uphold and strengthen these laws.

Civil Rights Health

The following recommendations can help civil rights attorneys, public health professionals, community groups, public agencies, recipients of public funding, foundations and other stakeholders alleviate health inequities through compliance with civil rights laws.

  1. Of the many avenues to achieve compliance with civil rights laws, voluntary compliance is the preferred means to achieve civil rights goals including health equity.
  2. Discrimination is a root cause of health disparities, and a comprehensive strategy to eliminate disparities must incorporate a strong civil rights component.
  3. Stakeholders should work together on a compliance and equity plan for each program or activity by recipients of federal funding that describes what is to be done, analyzes the impact on all communities, analyzes alternatives, includes full and fair participation by diverse communities, and alleviates health inequities.
  4. Compliance and equity plans should guard against unjustified and unnecessary discriminatory impacts, as well as intentional discrimination, in health programs and activities.
  5. Federal agencies should ensure compliance with civil rights laws through the many avenues they have available. This includes data collection, analyses, and publication, planning, regulations and guidance documents, review of federal funding applications, contractual assurances of compliance by recipients, compulsory self-evaluations by recipients, compliance reviews after funding, investigation of administrative complaints, full and fair public participation in the compliance and enforcement process, and denial or termination of funding. State and local agencies have similar tools to ensure compliance with federal and parallel state laws.
  6. Civil rights lawyers should use comprehensive problem-solving strategies: coalition building, planning, data collection and analysis, media, negotiation, policy and legal advocacy out of court, and access to justice through the courts.
  7. Foundations should support compliance with civil rights laws to ensure health equity, and support organizations for whom racial and ethnic justice is a core value. This can strengthen philanthropic efforts across a range of programs. Funding for organizational capacity is needed. Strategic funding of national, regional or local civil rights and environmental justice groups can have a significant impact.
  8. Attorneys and public health experts should work together to promote better understanding of the civil rights dimension of the challenge of health disparities, and to show how to address these civil rights concerns.
  9. Civil rights laws against discrimination in health and other publicly funded programs and activities should be strengthened and not rolled back. This includes the prohibition against unjustified and unnecessary discriminatory impacts, and intentional discrimination.
  10. It takes a movement. The myriad of strategies of the Civil Rights Movement started the process of dismantling the most egregious forms of Jim Crow health discrimination. A continued health justice movement, drawing on the lessons of history, is needed to seek racial equity and overcome discrimination and structural barriers to a more equitable society.

Download the Policy Report by Michael Rodriguez, MD, MPH; Marc Brenman; Marianne Engelman Lado, JD; and Robert García, JD, Using Civil Rights Tools to Address Health Disparities.

Celebrate The Civil Rights Revolution: The Struggle Continues.

Diverse, thriving communities are crucial to our national prosperity in the 21st century #choosefairness

January 14th, 2015

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Diverse, thriving communities are crucial to our national prosperity in the 21st century. Access to a safe and affordable home near quality schools and employment is central to the American Dream. When it comes to building strong communities, we’re all in it together.

Opponents in the Inclusive Communities Project case in the US Supreme Court are challenging the right to fight unfair and unjustified discriminatory impacts, even where there are less discriminatory alternatives, absent proof of intentional discrimination. The case will be argued January 21, 2015. Disparate impact is a long standing safeguard for civil rights. Disparate impact is a legacy of the Civil Right Movement. Freedom from discrimination benefits everyone. Civil Rights advocates are fighting to uphold the standard.

Celebrate The Civil Rights Movement . . .

 

Disparate impact has been used in the courts for 45 years to fight covert discrimination in housing #choosefairness

January 12th, 2015

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Criticisms of the disparate impact standard as a “new policy” have ignored the reality that disparate impact has consistently been upheld as a valid legal standard in 11 appellate courts over 45 years. Disparate impact is a critical tool to fight covert discrimination, and has expanded housing opportunities for women, families with children, people with disabilities, and people of color.

Opponents in the Inclusive Communities Project case in the US Supreme Court are challenging the right to fight unfair and unjustified discriminatory impacts, even where there are less discriminatory alternatives, absent proof of intentional discrimination. The challenge to the disparate impact standard reflects a general attack on civil rights tools to combat discrimination. Disparate impact is a long standing safeguard for civil rights. Disparate impact is a legacy of the Civil Right Movement. Freedom from discrimination benefits everyone. Civil Rights advocates are fighting to uphold the standard.

Celebrate The Civil Rights Movement . . .

LCHC ¡Salud por Vida! Conference 2015 Latino Coalition for a Healthy California 1/16/2015 8 to 4

January 8th, 2015

¡Salud por Vida! Conference 2015

Friday January 16th, 2015 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

register

The California Endowment Conferencing Center
1000 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

¡Salud por Vida!: Confirmed Keynote Speakers

SandraHernandez175Dr. Sandra Hernández – President and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation

Dr. Sandra R. Hernández became president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation in January 2014. CHCF is an independent foundation with assets of more than $700 million, headquartered in Oakland, California, and dedicated to improving the health of the people of California.

She is also an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and maintains a clinical practice at San Francisco General Hospital in the AIDS clinic. She is a graduate of Yale University, the Tufts School of Medicine, and the certificate program for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

castuloCástulo de la Rocha - President and Chief Executive Officer of AltaMed

Mr. Cástulo de la Rocha is President and CEO of AltaMed Health Services Corporation and a long standing community health leader for more than 35 years. During this time, he has taken AltaMed, a non-profit community health clinic, from two employees to a fully-accredited Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with over 2,000 employees. Today, AltaMed is the largest FQHC in the United States, delivering more than a million patient visits annually from 46 sites in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, including 21 clinic sites and 11 senior care service centers. Mr. de la Rocha’s dedication to and success in providing high quality, affordable and accessible health and human services to underserved communities has earned him national recognition in the health field including the U.S. Surgeon General’s Gold Medallion for Public Health; the Pioneer for Justice award by the Mexican American Bar Foundation.

Climate Justice & Latino Health


¡Salud por Vida!: Conference Agenda
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Dr. Martin Luther King condemned housing discrimination as a major barrier to equality and fairness. #choosefairness

January 7th, 2015

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Civil Rights advocates are fighting to uphold the disparate impact standard of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act in the US Supreme Court in 2015.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed in the wake of Dr. King’s tragic assassination. The law was passed to address unfair overt and covert acts of discrimination and to address America’s deeply segregated communities. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.

Opponents in the Inclusive Communities Project case are challenging the right to fight unfair and unjustified discriminatory impacts, even where there are less discriminatory alternatives, absent proof of intentional discrimination. The challenge to the disparate impact standard reflects a general attack on civil rights tools to combat discrimination. Disparate impact is a long standing safeguard for civil rights. Disparate impact is a legacy of the Civil Right Movement. Freedom from discrimination benefits everyone.

The disparate impact standard can ferret out subtle and structural practices that have demonstrably discriminatory effects. A thoughtless policy can be as unfair as, and functionally equivalent to, intentional discrimination. As a matter of common sense, discriminatory programs or activities should be avoided in favor of racially neutral solutions that serve everyone’s interests fairly, effectively, and without discrimination.

Celebrate The Civil Rights Movement . . .