The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) today announced that People United for Sustainable Housing Buffalo (PUSH Buffalo) is featured in the NAM’s newly released documentary video series titled “Communities Driving Health Equity.”This series spotlights local organizations across the U.S. advancing health equity for their communities by addressing the environmental, social, economic, and structural challenges that may impact residents’ health. The videos show that, while challenges are numerous, progress is possible when community members, organizations, funders, and policy makers work together to drive local-level solutions that improve health equity and well-being for all.
PUSH Buffalo is a local membership-based community organization fighting to make affordable housing a reality in West Buffalo, NY. Founded by Aaron Bartley and Eric Walker in 2005, PUSH Buffalo strives to build a more democratic, action-oriented organization that works to address poor housing conditions and the lack of living wage jobs in its neighborhoods; decrease the rate of housing abandonment by reclaiming properties from neglectful public and private owners and redeveloping them for occupancy; lead direct action campaigns against corporations and government agencies whose practices contribute to the high poverty rate in the community; and create a replicable model of grassroots neighborhood organizing and redevelopment that can be deployed in other low-income communities throughout the Rust Belt.
The two additional community organizations featured in the video series include:
- Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN), a catalyst for marginalized peoples and faith communities to act collectively for racial and economic equity in Indianapolis and Marion County, IN.
- Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (KKV), a federally-qualified health center in Honolulu, HI that works to foster health in the broadest sense—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Our nation’s health depends largely on the health and well-being of its communities, but many of them don’t have adequate access to jobs, safe and affordable housing, health care, green space, healthy food options, and other things they need to thrive. While biology, genetics, and individual behaviors play a role in people’s health, the socially-driven conditions in which one lives—often referred to as “social determinants of health”—influence and limit individuals’ choices. By taking on these health-limiting factors and developing solutions with partners, communities can help empower residents to grasp their full health potential.
“The NAM is proud to present the stories of PUSH Buffalo and other diverse communities that face complex, pervasive challenges but are all making progress in advancing health equity,” said Charlee Alexander, NAM program officer. “While each community needs to develop an approach suited to its own unique needs, our hope is that in sharing these stories, communities facing similar challenges might be inspired and informed to build solutions that are right for them.”
This documentary series is a part of the NAM’s Culture of Health Program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which focuses on health equity—meaning everyone has the same shot at living a healthy life. A 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity, profiled the three organizations in this documentary series as well as additional communities and identified some of the principles they used to make progress advancing health equity. Increasing community capacity to shape outcomes, making health equity a shared vision and value, and fostering multi-sector collaboration are cross-cutting themes within the work of these communities that have helped guide them to success.