Sick stats: New report says lack of action on community health is costing Sacramento

When it comes to improving health equity in the region, capital region faces major challenges

The mission to address health disparities in Sacramento may be moving in the wrong direction if officials don’t start making bold and innovative choices.

That’s the finding of a report released February 28 by the Healthy Sacramento Coalition, which documented a major decline in black home ownership, as well as rising rental costs for all low-income areas and a striking increase in disconnected youth.

HSC is an alliance of more than 50 nonprofits, community organizations and medical groups. Its data-rich study took over one year to prepare and was authored by PolicyLink, an Oakland research center, and the University of Southern California’s Program in Environmental and Regional Equity. Its purpose is to provide a new policy agenda for improving health equity and promoting inclusive growth in the Sacramento region.

Veronica Beaty, the co-chair of the Healthy Sacramento Coalition Stakeholder Committee, said that understanding health equity means understanding the area’s history of education, employment, income, housing access, family and social support, public safety, air and water quality. She added that the report’s findings should not be ignored.

“The study calculated that our regional [gross domestic product] could grow by $19 billion if racial gaps to income and economic development are bridged,” Beaty said.

The study also provides insights into the geographic concentration of poverty and disinvestment in the region’s western urban core. Its findings suggest that Sacramento’s history of redlining, restrictive zoning and housing discrimination—starting in the 1930s—is still affecting land use patterns today.

The study recommends increasing affordable housing options, restoring inclusionary housing rules, investing new cannabis taxes in youth programs for challenged neighborhoods, championing innovative rehabilitation programs over incarceration and working with banks to incentivize savings accounts for low income families.

For Beaty and other community advocates, these recommendations aren’t just lofty goals, they’re the key to a better future. “It means that everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to be healthy,” Beaty said.