After Health Crisis, Medford Develops Roadmap For Racial Equity


MEDFORD, MA — City officials on Wednesday released Medford’s “Social Justice Roadmap,” a guiding document that details ongoing interdepartmental work around equity and inclusion and lays out proposed goals for continuing and expanding on this work with the community.

The full document is available here and will be updated regularly as work continues. The report includes action steps the city has taken or are currently under review to address racism and the social determinants of health that disproportionately impact communities of color, reports compiled, questions officials have received from residents and more.

To address institutional and systemic racism, the city is addressing equity in several fields, including:

Health & Well-Being

– Through interdepartmental and external agency collaboration, address social determinants of health. According to the World Health Organization, “Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.” These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels.

– Identify, address, and provide additional supports to residents in need of health
and social wellness interventions through the City’s HUB Team which brings
together City departments and community agencies to provide assistance to
residents in crisis

– Through the Food Security Task Force, work to address issues around food insecurity and equitable access to health food. The concepts of equity and inclusion are incorporated into all food security planning. Recommendations for improving food security in Medford were developed before the COVID-19 pandemic available in the Food Plan, available at www.medfordma.org/foodresource…

– Through the Municipal Vulnerability Program grant, work to assess and address community resilience to climate change with a focus on supporting vulnerable populations.

– In February, the City pledged to work to make the City hunger free by 2025.

City Government

– Increase trainings and professional development for all staff on diversity and equity, and as possible offer similar training opportunities to the general public

– Enhance and increase outreach efforts, including all forms of communication as
well as virtual and in-person meetings

– Increase diversity in hiring, and on City Boards and Commissions

– Apply an equity lens in all policies and procedures, including review/updating of
existing policies and procedures

Policing

– Conduct a comprehensive review of policies and procedures within the Medford Police Department, ensuring that they meet the needs of all residents, and with a critical focus on issues of concern recently raised (i.e. Use of Force Policies)

– Formalize policies and begin use of body-worn cameras.

– Explore opportunities to increase the diversity of Police Officers and review
alternative means of hiring outside Civil Service system

– To see all goals of the Medford Police Department, visit https://medfordpolice.com/goals/.

Transportation

– Work with local, state partners to identify and address inequities in access to transit.

– Creating a dedicated bus lane on Mystic Ave. during rush hours to increase access to rapid transit, jobs and services.

– Complete Streets Program: Complete Streets are designed and operated to
provide safety and accountability for all road users, including pedestrians,
bicyclists, and vehicles. Complete Streets principles contribute to the
safety, health, economic viability, and quality of life in a community by
providing accessible and efficient connections to school, work, retail, jobs,
and resources.

– Safe Routes to Schools: Creating safer walking routes to our neighborhood
schools through traffic safety enhancements which also slow vehicle
traffic

Housing

– Advance the City’s Housing Production Plan, and continue to identify and address barriers to affordable housing. The City of Medford is creating a plan looking at housing in Medford, also known as a Housing Production Plan (HPP). This plan will look at the community’s current housing needs and brainstorm ideas for ways to create a mix of housing types for different income levels. It will also act as a roadmap to have a minimum of 10 percent of year-round housing stock that is deed-restricted as affordable. See a short video by the Medford Housing
Production Plan Committee about what a Housing Production Plan is below:

– The HPP Committee working on the plan specifically reviewed survey results for their demographic spread before releasing to the public, and based on disproportionate responses from lower income, renters and people of color, increased outreach efforts to those populations.

– The Housing Production Plan effort included translating the survey into Spanish and Haitian Creole, requested Medford faith leaders to help with the distribution to underrepresented minorities, and specifically asked the Medford Housing Authority to distribute the video and survey in all three languages. The city has partnered with ABCD and Housing Families, and provided money to assist residents through CDBG funding. Throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, both organizations have provided critical support to residents, including emergency rental assistance and pro-bono legal services.

Business/Community Development

– As the city begins a comprehensive planning process (later this year), the city and its partners will ensure all residents are represented and have input into the plan which will shape the City’s plans for the future.

“In June 2020, I officially declared racism a public health crisis in Medford, and we committed to addressing that crisis in a number of ways,” Lungo-Koehn said in a statement. “To effectively move forward, it is important to understand our baseline and the work that has been done, both internally as a city government as well as with our many community partner agencies, and this document provides a deeper look into the incredible work that has already been done in many areas to address the social determinants of health. I look forward to continuing this important work, especially with the community at large.”

To further this work and to update and enhance the report and its goals, the city will work with the Medford community in the coming weeks and months to ensure this is a guiding document that reflects the ideals, work and needs of the entire community. The information will be updated regularly, and meetings, events, and programs related to these efforts will be announced in a number of ways as they are scheduled.

Click here to see the full document.

This article originally appeared on the Medford Patch

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