Longstanding Racial Inequalities Have Led to Intergenerational Trauma and Health Inequity
On the surface, Santa Clara County appears to be a place of health and wealth, yet within its borders are large pockets of deep disparity. Of those, East San José is most impacted by violence. Despite East San Jose’s vibrant history of diverse cultures and deep community roots, its health has been in jeopardy due to high rates of violence, community trauma and poverty, factors proven to harm physical and mental health. Trauma has even been tied to heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and a host of other illnesses.
Empowering Community to Build Resilience and Address Violence
In an ambitious effort to prevent and address violence, trauma and racial inequities, community leaders, in partnership with Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s Violence Prevention Program, launched an Accountable Community for Health (ACH), the East San José Prevention Efforts Advance Community Equity (PEACE) Partnership.
PEACE is a multi-sector partnership that brings residents of East San José’s three zip codes together with county agencies, grassroots groups, health care providers, businesses, schools and youth leaders. Collectively, these organizations improve health equity by sharing knowledge, braiding funding, coordinating strategies and executing community-based interventions. These interventions include grassroots support for policies and programs that address violence, advocacy efforts to encourage local economic investments, peer-to-peer action to build community resilience and storytelling efforts to counteract the conditions that have led to a high level of community violence and trauma in East San Jose.
ACH IN ACTION
Building Capacity for Equitable Community Impact
In its first year, PEACE appointed a diverse leadership team and established a strong governance system with bylaws and a clear vision for action. The team soon adopted a Portfolio of Interventions that focuses on three areas: social/political environment (people), physical/built environment (place) and economic/educational environment (equitable opportunity). In year two, six work groups were formed to execute initiatives ranging from gun safety to intimate partner violence prevention.
One workgroup helped advocate for and pass the city of San José anti-displacement strategy, a 10-point plan to help tenants stay in their homes as housing prices skyrocket. This plan, which was developed through diverse stakeholder and community meetings, created a roadmap for the city to strengthen eviction protection, displacement prevention and affordable housing production.
PEACE also launched a Wellness Fund designed to pool resources, including a significant grant from CACHI and Santa Clara County’s AB 109 reentry fund. This fund provides sustainable, reliable and responsive funding for the partnership’s interventions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, PEACE’s resident leaders created an economic relief fund that raised and distributed $604,000 to support 730 East San José families who could not receive traditional government aid due to their immigration status.
PEACE Partnership is working diligently to further implement a Racial Equity-Centered Results Based Accountability framework to align efforts and address the root cause of violence more effectively. Workgroups are focused on addressing barriers like poverty, racism and other forms of discrimination, and the conditions they create that make it harder to be healthy, such as lack of access to good jobs, safe environments, quality education and housing, and health care. PEACE is also working on growing its Wellness Fund under the stewardship of the Valley Medical Center Foundation and strengthening its capacity to reduce violence, improve health equity and adapt to new challenges in East San José.
To learn more about CACHI and the ACH model across California, please contact Barbara Masters at CACHImgr@communitypartners.org or visit the website at www.CACHI.org.
The California Accountable Communities for Health Initiative (CACHI) was established to spearhead efforts to modernize our health system and build a healthier California. To realize this vision, CACHI utilizes a model known as Accountable Communities for Health (ACH), where multiple sectors align goals and collaborate to address the leading health issues facing our communities.