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Advocates Continue to Push for Sustained Funding for Health Equity, Racial Justice

Grassroots community leaders, public health and racial justice advocates continue to call on Gov. Newsom to support the California Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund (HERJ Fund) and dedicate ongoing funding to marginalized communities. PHI joins more than 200 organizations who are pushing for the Fund, which would support community-based organizations in reducing health disparities and addressing the public health impacts of systemic racism.

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As the pandemic continues, public health groups across California want sustained investment from the state, in part to create a fund that would specifically address racial disparities. Despite broad support from the legislature, the proposal has not survived negotiation with the Governor’s office. KQED, Sara Hossaini, reports advocates are calling this a “missed opportunity.”

The state budget does include half a million for reproductive health services and ongoing public health efforts, something the Governor’s office said in a statement would in part go towards addressing health disparities. Also new this year, Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status. But Monika Lee with the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, says there’s still a need for a single, stable funding source just for community-based clinics and tribal organizations.

“We need to have funding because community groups know their neighbors best. They speak to them in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways. Lee says without this dedicated funding, community organizations will have to rely on inconsistent and piecemeal funding like COVID emergency funding.”

Jamaica Sowell is Policy and Programs Director for Roots Community Health Center. She says the Center takes a holistic approach to its work. For example, addressing high rates of infant mortality for Black women means ensuring that they not only get their regular checkups, but have transportation, nutrition and stable housing.

“We are a health entity that really provides wrap-around services from cradle to grave. So being able to have funding that can really span, truly span the lifetime of individuals, would just be amazing.”

Listen to the full interview below. For more information about the California Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund, visit:

Originally published by KQED

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