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One Month of Shelter at Home & a Call to Action

We are one month into shelter in place—and we have lived the promise of our merger.  BARHII and Rise Together members have responded fast to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.   We worked together, as a merged entity, toward the shared mission that matters to us all – health equity, economic opportunity, and racial justice.   On Monday, March 16, the Bay Area Health Officers announced their shelter in place order.  By Friday, our coalition’s incredible staff have prepped community organizers and policy professionals from around the region for a meeting that would shape our immediate policy response. On March 20th, over 70 BARHII and Rise Together members joined our membership meeting to set an agenda for health equity and economic opportunity in the face of COVID-19.  We left that meeting with the BARHII – Rise Together COVID-19 policy platform.   Immediately, and over the next 30 days staff and members worked together to:

  • Protect Housing Stability and Preventing More Houselessnes:  Power of 9 members, BARHII’s public health members, and elected officials worked together to pass eviction moratoriums in nearly every county. At the request of communities that were moving most quickly, BARHII immediately produced a detailed health case for evictions and provided feedback on their ordinances in Alameda and Sonoma counties. We then shared these lessons with campaigns region wide, and it was used in the media to support moratoriums. With new COVID-19 emergency response funds, we hired a consultant who is assisting in the three counties that still need eviction protections.

  • Support Paid Sick Leave and Income Supplement for Families:  BARHII quickly created the health case for paid sick leave in Hayward and other leading localities considering local ordinances. We shared it with advocates from across the region working for their own paid sick leave and family income supports.  BARHII and Rise Together members also supported four different sign-on campaigns for paid sick leave and expanded income for families. This week, through TA from one of our funders, we will be able to provide legal analysis on opportunities for health departments to do even more in this area.

  • Highlight Mental Wellness & Parks and Open Space:  Over 130 BARHII and Rise Together members joined our webinar on Mental Wellness during COVID-19.  We produced key takeaways, focused on those most impacted.  And, because parks are vehicles for community wellness, we produced equity considerations when balancing transmission risk of COVID-19 and our social and health needs for parks.  Park directors and health officers are now meeting together to develop practical plans for safe use of our parks in the time of social distancing.

  • Connect Non-Profits to Resources:  Non-profits are an essential lifeline, yet most non-profits have less than a three-month operating reserve.  This month, we facilitated personal meetings between small non-profit organizations, funders, and local governments to identify needs as new response funders were being developed.  And, we shared information about the Payroll Protection Program so organizations can bolster operations during this time. 

The Power of 9 Counties, United Our collective commitment to a vision of equity is lived in our actions.  This has meant providing extra time and attention to parts of the region that needed more support to pass eviction moratoriums, and it means addressing the specific needs of those most vulnerable during this crisis.  This month, we will be continuing to shape our future by responding to membership requests to:

  • Advance efforts of the BARHII data committee to better understand disparities in COVID-19 by race, especially for African Americans and Pacific Islanders

  • Ensure the undocumented are fully included in response and recovery efforts

  • Meet the needs of the LGBTQ community

The Uniqueness of Our Membership We are deeply grateful for all of you.  It’s your calls that direct us where to focus next.  Your advice that drives our collaboration.  And your passion that reminds us that we all have a role in bending this great region towards justice and equity.  It’s a pleasure to work with people who rise so quickly to the challenge—and feel so deeply how we are all truly bound together in this world. Call to Action We shape our future with our actions and our choices.  Organizers across this region, public health employees, social service agencies, and funders have done just that.  Together we will continue to focus on policy gains that meet the scale of the problems we face –and on partnership, technical assistance, and training to implement those solutions so they matter for equity and improve the conditions for all of us in community.

If you are see something in the region that needs to be address, please contact me or Melanie so we can work with you to figure out how to advance it within our vast network of partners.


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PS.  A very special thanks to the California Endowment and Blueshield Foundation of California, thank you for your speed in providing the funding we need to advance an equitable response.  Their work supports both our immediate response and our efforts toward an equitable recovery.

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Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII)

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