INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
The health of a community is closely tied to the health of its residents. Social Determinants of Health are the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that impact a wide variety of health outcomes. That is where CDCs can and do have a major impact on health: CDCs’ work on resident services, property maintenance and more has all been shown to impact health. Additionally, many of our members run services and programs with an explicit health focus, such as healthy food distribution programs, developing residences with supportive housing services, and improving homes with the goal of reducing asthma rates among children in the community.
A 2014 Health Impact Assessment (HIA) conducted by Health Resources in Action (HRIA) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) detailed the clear relationship between the work of CDCs and the improvements in resident health outcomes.
Building upon the HIA, MACDC has been a national leader in driving the convergence of health equity and community development. In 2019, we were the first state association of CDCs to hire a full-time Program Director for Health Equity to support our members in this work.
In 2020, Massachusetts CDCs, along with the rest of the world, encountered an unprecedented challenge to global health. Devastating in so many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the inextricable convergence of health and community development and presented an opportunity to further envision the ways in which health equity can be permanently embedded into the fabric of the Community Development Movement.
Currently, MACDC is supporting our members through the following activities:
MACDC’s Program Director for Health Equity provides one on one technical assistance to support our members’ engagement in health-related programming. Our members learn from one another in the context of our Health Equity Committee which meets every other month to discuss topics such as climate change and health, health foundation partnerships, and racism and public health, among others. In 2021, we launched a racial equity and health book group. MACDC additionally distributes a “Health Equity Update” to keep our members informed of funding opportunities, new resources, and program updates.
We offer an introductory training on “The Convergence of Health Equity and Community Development” through the Mel King Institute twice a year. A version of this training is also available to CDC boards to spark conversation about health needs in their community and how CDCs can address these needs.
Strengthening CDCs relationships with hospitals
MACDC supports our members in initiating and strengthening relationships with their local hospitals. We recently published a Guide To Reading A Hospital’s Community Benefits Report, which is a tool for CDCs, CDFIs, and other community-based organizations to better understand their local hospital’s commitments to community health and to foster more collaboration between hospitals and community-based organizations. Learn more about the Guide and how to use it here.
MACDC is partnering with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association on an upcoming training focused on partnering with CDCs to address Social Determinants of Health through the Community Investment Tax Credit Program.
We additionally serve on several committees that help to direct hospital funding towards increasing upstream investments. These include:
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Allocation’s Committee
- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Community Health Fund Advisory Committee & Governance Structure Design Committee
- The Boston CHNA/CHIP Collaborative
Housing Quality and Health
MACDC’s Housing Quality and Health Task Force launched in December 2021. The primary goal of the Task Force is to substantially increase the quality of the existing housing stock in Massachusetts and, through this work, to significantly contribute to the elimination of racial disparities in health outcomes.
Task Force members represent the following organizations:
- Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association
- MA Fair Housing Center
- MA Public Health Association
- MA Asthma Action Partnership
- MA Healthy Aging Collaborative
- Disability Policy Consortium
- Boston Children’s Hospital
- Boston Medical Center
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA Foundation
- Metropolitan Area Planning Council
- Harvard Kennedy School
- Boston Public Health Commission
- MA Department of Public Health
- MA Department of Housing and Community Development
- Holyoke Office of Planning and Economic Development
- Public Health Institute of Western MA
- CDC Representatives
Advocacy in the health space
Our policy priorities support programs that seek to improve health from an economic development lens:
- Get the Lead Out
- Massachusetts Food Trust Program
- Massachusetts Healthy Homes Initiative (MHHI)
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Beginning in March 2020, we quickly pivoted to supporting our members in their responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our COVID-19 Resource Page represents resources and support that we’ve provided to our members throughout the pandemic. You can read more about our members response to COVID-19 in this Special Newsletter.
- Report on Health-Related Work Among Massachusetts CDCs – November 2020
To learn more about MACDC's work in the Health Equity space, please contact our Program Director for Health Equity, Elana Brochin, at email@example.com.