Jersey City Aims to Tackle Racial Injustice & Health Inequities
This past week, Mayor Fulop, alongside the Human Services Department, announced that Jersey City was among the list of 25 cities across the country that would be receiving the Kresge Grant this year. The Kresge Grant, awarded by the Kresge Foundation, is given to cities for their leadership in tackling racial injustice and healthcare inequality, issues that have been at the forefront in the country over the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing fight against racial injustice.
“As the most diverse city in the nation, our residents have diverse needs, and we’re committed to expanding critical resources many residents rely on. We will continue to identify and address health disparities and to ensure we meet the emerging needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” – Mayor Steven Fulop.
The grant, at a value for over a quarter of a millions dollars, is for the betterment and continuity of an emergent health intervention platform, increase staff training and further deliver equitable, racially, and ethnically appropriate services to diverse communities throughout the entire receiving city. Jersey City specifically will be using this grant to address health inequities, furthering health education and increasing access to mental health services as well as violence prevention services. Money will be put towards training; developing and certifying professional staff to address behavioral health issues and the best way to integrate violence prevention into the city’s departmental programs and services.
During the pandemic Jersey City saw an increase in demand for the Meals on Wheels program by 300%. During the height of the pandemic the city’s public showers were reopened with expanded hours to aid the homeless in maintaining sanitation and hygiene, a key factor in fighting against the spreading virus. This provided city staff with the opportunity to build meaningful relationships and provide support and supplies, including clothing, food, client assessments, rapid response COVID-19 testing and free flu shots.
“We have drastically improved public access to the myriad of health services we offer from meal deliveries to mental health services, to public showers, to distributing hand sanitizers and masks, and everything in between,” said the Director of the Jersey City Health and Human Services Department, Stacey Flanagan. “We are meeting the historic demand for our city services, and this grant is a much-needed financial boost to be able to expand upon our success to ensure no one is left behind.”
The recognition of Jersey City’s efforts are a testament to a broader initiative that Jersey City has undertaken alongside five other cities worldwide with the World Economic Forum (WEF). This one-of-a-kind partnership is to develop a template that will change how the government tackles public policy in its relation to making a healthier world. Jersey City has been serving as a historical pilot for this program, working towards creating a healthy city that’ll serve as an model for cities worldwide, including the next cities on the list: Austin, Mumbai, and Amsterdam.