The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has announced the inaugural awards of the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds (the Funds). As part of these awards, DPH, and its implementing partner Health Resources in Action, Inc., will join with CHAPA and 31 other organizations across Massachusetts and more than 35 of their community partners, including non-profit community-based organizations, municipalities, and regional planning commissions. All of these organizations, including CHAPA, have committed to leading efforts to address the root causes of health inequities by disrupting systemic barriers to health and tackling institutional and structural racism head-on. During the pandemic, the need to support such efforts is even more imperative.
In total ~$14.7M in grants will support 32 lead organizations and 35 of their partner organizations implementing strategies, ultimately impacting 163 cities and towns across the state. CHAPA’s Municipal Engagement Initiative (MEI) has worked with communities in Acton, Agawam, Amherst, Arlington, Brookline, Essex, Foxborough, Lynn, Medford, Newton, and Revere and is looking forward to reaching more municipalities through this funding.
"We are so proud to be recipients of this inaugural award,” said Dana LeWinter, Municipal Engagement Initiative director at CHAPA. “The success of our Municipal Engagement Initiative relies on our ability to deeply engage local residents in conversations to root out systemic inequities and empower them to create and enact strategies to break down barriers to healthy, safe, and affordable housing in their communities. The Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds will allow us to more effectively engage local coalitions on the connections between affordable housing, housing production, health, segregation and take the critical steps to create a more equitable future. We are excited to partner with DPH, HRiA, and the other awardees to contribute to this important effort."
The goal of the Funds is to work with community partners to increase awareness and address the impact of structural racism on population health, and to create long-term, meaningful changes in population health outcomes, including mental health and chronic disease.
The Funds invests in initiatives in three core areas of focus including those:
- Working on long-lasting, community-driven policy, systems, and environmental changes that will make it easier to lead healthy lives and which will reduce health inequities such as racial patterns of segregation in communities and a lack of affordable housing production;
- Organizing and coordinating Community Health Improvement Planning efforts which convene multi-sector partnerships to collectively set and address community health goals, and;
- Working to address policies and systems that increase opportunities for healthy aging.
Recognizing the complex ways in which systems impact health, the investments will support a wide range of activities across the Commonwealth. CHAPA will expand and enhance MEI, an effort that brings together community members and municipal leaders focused on working with residents to support their efforts to increase housing production, affordable housing opportunities, and availability of diverse housing options.
"Redlining, exclusionary zoning, and discriminatory housing policies have shaped our communities, perpetuating segregation and preventing affordable housing development,” said Rachel Heller, CHAPA’s chief executive officer. “This grant provides critical support for CHAPA, and we’re grateful our community partners recognize the role that zoning, affordable housing, and access to housing play in addressing systemic racism. We’re excited to work together to remove the barriers that keep people out and limit opportunity."
The Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds were created in January 2017 when DPH completed a landmark revision of its Determination of Need (DoN) regulation, which authorized the creation of these Funds. DPH provides overall guidance to the Funds and Health Resources in Action, Inc. acts as a fiduciary and implementing partner. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) partners with DPH to support the Healthy Aging Fund.
More information about the Funds can be found at https://mahealthfunds.org/