In the first year of Community Powered Change, five priority areas were identified by community members. The original set of priorities has remained the same; however, in 2017, community members raised their thoughts around changing the order of priorities, given the increased racist behavior observed within Multnomah County. These are presented here in their adjusted order.
Transformative Change Toward Equity and Empowerment
Oregon was legally founded as a state that excluded and discriminated against communities of color. As a result of such laws and policies, Multnomah County has a deep history of discrimination against its communities of color. Acts of racism and violence against these groups of people are increasing as this behavior has become accepted and even supported in the highest institutions of this country. Multnomah’s population has been changing steadily for the past 20 years, with growing numbers of people of color, immigrants, and refugees. The work of Community Powered Change seeks to ensure the policies of our institutions and programs support our growing communities of color.
Access to Culturally & Linguistically Specific and Responsive Healthcare
Too often our communities of color are made to feel unwelcome or unsafe in our healthcare institutions. This can mean not having signs available in our own language or information we can understand in simple terms. It can also mean working with doctors and nurses who don’t look like us. This unfriendly, unwelcoming environment does not allow our communities to engage fully in our own health and this can have serious health consequences. Our work lies in ensuring healthcare systems are more accessible to our communities of color.
A Neighborhood Home for All
All people deserve access to safe and affordable housing. Yet for many families of color, there are multiple barriers that make this dream nearly impossible, including discriminatory policies. In addition, families and communities are being forced to leave their homes and neighborhoods due to rising costs and increased no-cause evictions. Unstable housing affects physical and mental health and increases the risk of homelessness, which in turn can make recovery from illnesses more difficult. The work of Community Powered Change addresses issues including overall housing policies, affordable housing, and houselessness.
Essential Community Resources
Essential community resources encompass what affects our health and daily living, beyond hospitals and housing. This category includes transportation, education, jobs, and food. There are notable differences in access to these services among communities of color. Our work identifies areas of policy change and investment in work supporting communities of color.
Supporting Family and Community Ways
Families and communities of color must often balance living in the mainstream world while finding ways to bring opportunities and resources back home that support our own traditional and cultural practices of health and healing. This includes access to foods and healing medicines, land to connect to physical activity and nature, and space and opportunity for ceremonial, religious, cultural, educational, and celebratory community gatherings. The work of Community Powered Change includes ensuring investment in the organizations that support our communities of color.