April / May 2020 Newsletter

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Health and Housing Equity Connection

Gilvar Consulting Services Newsletter

April / May 2020

This month’s topic: Equity and Mindfulness in the Time of Crisis

Equity and mindfulness represent two core values that inform my coaching, leadership training, and consultation work.  This month’s newsletter explores why maintaining focus on each is especially important during times of crisis such as the current pandemic.

In a future newsletter I’ll explore why I believe mindfulness represents a critical pathway to working toward equity.  For now, I hope you enjoy the interviews, articles, and other resources that provide strategies for keeping each at the forefront as we collectively work toward ending the pandemic, regardless of our individual role.

Equity

The economic relief package in the CARES Act includes over $6 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to increase communities’ capacity to prevent the spread of coronavirus among three groups disproportionately comprised of People of Color: those living homeless, those at-risk of homelessness, and those with HIV.   This funding represents a necessary but insufficient response given that we know existing systems produce inequitable outcomes. Will we once again look at these populations and say the problems are too hard or too expensive to fix, or will we address systemic drivers and undertake real change? 

In this American Public Health Association blogpost, Rose Englert, Ben King, and I address this question and suggest some action steps for applying a racial equity lens to preventing the spread of coronavirus among homeless and other vulnerable populations. We then argue that the short-term changes in approach that result from leading with equity can be converted into much needed long-term change.

Now more than ever it’s clear that homelessness is a Public Health crisis that requires significant leaps in cross-sector collaboration enabling leaders in Public Health, homeless services, and community health care to better align and integrate their work. The equity lens may provide a helpful catalyst and framework for this collaboration.  If nothing else, it helps us to collectively call out the “too expensive” and “too intractable” excuses as unjust and finally put them to rest.

Other great resources for leading with equity in serving vulnerable populations within the current crisis are available from National Innovation Service, National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Corporation for Supportive Housing.

Mindfulness

In a 4/8/20 special episode of C4’s Changing the Conversation podcast series I was interviewed by host Jeff Olivet on the topic of Mindfulness in the Time of Crisis.  The idea for this episode was to offer a mindfulness practice that helped me immensely in working with the stress that I felt working on disaster responses, for example, managing shelter clinics for evacuees of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  I was able to tell some stories that hopefully are relatable for frontline workers in the COVID response and then share a brief guided mindfulness exercise that I hope proves helpful to anyone who is working with increased stress during this pandemic.

Numerous other perspectives on this topic can be found at the Tricycle Magazine site.

Other Articles