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October 7, 2022

Pressley, Warren, Lee Applaud New Community Grants to Tackle Structural Racism in Public Health

First-Of-Its-Kind Funding Under HHS Informed by Pressley-Warren-Lee “Anti-Racism in Public Health Act

Boston Public Health Commission to Receive Nearly $493,000

BOSTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) awarding of over $4.8 million in federal grants to 10 community organizations across the country to support efforts to address policies that may create or perpetuate health disparities and contribute to structural racism.

The first-of-its kind funding, which is informed by the lawmakers’ Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, includes nearly $493,000 for the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to support their work to develop equitable responses and prevention of homelessness and substance use disorder. BPHC will also use the funding reduce the inequitable burden of homelessness, substance use disorders and related issues on communities of color in Boston.

“This first-of-its-kind funding will help community organizations across the country develop anti-racist health policy to confront the crisis that has threatened our communities, denied access to quality health care, and exacerbated longstanding racial disparities in health outcomes,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “I’m thrilled the Boston Public Health Commission is receiving this funding, which will allow them to do this life-saving work right here in the Massachusetts 7th, and I am proud to have partnered with Senator Warren and Rep. Lee to help make these investments in anti-racism a reality.”

“This new federal funding will provide the Boston Public Health Commission with the necessary tools to address health care disparities in Massachusetts,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I’m thrilled that the provisions we laid out in our Anti-Racism in Public Health Act are being used to confront inequity and discrimination in our health care system.”

“Racism permeates every aspect of our society—healthcare included,” said Congresswoman Lee. “I applaud HHS for taking another step towards dismantling decades of structural racism in public health with this announcement of more than $4.8 million in grants, and am pleased to see that these grants are in line with the framework that Rep. Pressley, Senator Warren and I laid out in the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m excited to see nearly this funding going directly into our communities to meaningfully and intentionally bring us closer to ending the health disparities that COVID so clearly exposed.”

“Structural racism is a root cause of homelessness. Pervasive racism within the carceral, healthcare, housing, education and other systems have led to disparities in homelessness among people of color. This funding will enable the Boston Public Health Commission address the policies and practices that are contributing to inequity in housing status,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “In addition, this funding will support the evaluation of ongoing efforts to develop interventions for Boston residents experiencing substance use disorder, mental health issues and unsheltered status. I am grateful to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Minority Health for investing in this work, and to Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Warren for their leadership and commitment to health equity.”

The Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, which the lawmakers re-introduced in February 2021, would confront structural racism as a public health crisis through two bold new programs within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a grant program supporting research and coordination on the science and practice of anti-racism in the provision of health care. The new funding was awarded this week under HHS’ Community-Driven Approaches to Address Factors Contributing to Structural Racism in Public Health initiative, a pilot program modeled after Section 4a2b of their legislation and established by a provision championed by Reps. Pressley and Lee in the recent House appropriations process. 

The recipients of this new funding are:

  • Boston Public Health Commission (Boston, MA) – $492,838
  • AltaMed Health Services Corporation (Los Angeles, CA) – $500,000
  • Center for Health Innovation (Silver City, NM)- $500,000
  • City of Hartford (Hartford, CT) – $500,000
  • First Candle, Inc. (New Canaan, CT) – $385,094
  • Flushing Hospital Medical Center (Flushing, NY) – $499,923
  • LiveWell Greenville (Greenville, SC) – $498,715.93
  • Public Health Advocates – (Stockton, CA) – $500,000
  • The Regents of the University of California, U.C. San Diego (La Jolla, CA) – $500,000
  • Trustees of Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) – $439,278.00

Through this initiative, recipients will assess the impact of existing policies and practices and the implementation of new or modified policies and practices to address factors contributing to health disparities and structural racism in health services. Recipients will also evaluate the extent to which their projects result in increased capacity of community coalitions to assess policy and practice impact within their communities. HHS ultimately expects recipients to address health disparities among racial and ethnic minority populations and to help demonstrate the impact of those efforts on outcomes and the overarching goal of advancing health equity.

More information on this new funding and HHS’ new pilot program is available here, and more information about the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act is available here.