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The Epic Revitalization of a Latino Neighborhood from Housing to Social Change


Editor's Note: main photo above is of Esperanza Academy Charter School's mural via facebook.com/Esperanzausa and whyy.org.

Roberto Clemente Middle School shut its doors in 1994 and sat empty for more than 10 years years in Philadelphia's Hunting Park, a predominantly Latino neighborhood. Not anymore. Local faith-based nonprofit Esperanza has turned the former school into 38 affordable housing units, which opened November 2018, Plan Philly reports. The site also has 5,000 square feet of commercial space. “It will now once again become a community asset, providing quality, affordable housing to Hunting Park residents,” said David Ortiz, Esperanza’s vice president of housing and economic development. But the school-turned-affordable-housing project is just one part of Esperanza's neighborhood revitalization plans. Esperanza's Revitalization of Hunting Park Hunting Park has higher poverty ...

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Call for Help: Mental Health Helpline Launched in South Texas


Hope Famil Health Center mental health warm line

Struggling with behavioral or mental health issues? If you're in the Rio Grande Valley (~90% Latino), there is a phone number you can call to get help. The Hope Family Health Center in McAllen, Texas has launched a new service: A Peer Run Warm Line. This resource is for those in the community who are experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness, or any other non-crisis, non-emergency ailment to their everyday living. The Warm Line launched on January 21, 2019. "There may be somebody that will be going through a crisis or close to a crisis and need somebody to talk to and [they're] isolated and don’t want to call the hospital for help or don’t have the resource," Rebecca Stocker, leader of Hope Family Health Center in McAllen, told The Monitor. "They can ...

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Water, Milk Now the Default Drinks on Kid’s Menus in California


sugary drinks in schools

Water and milk are now the "default beverage" on kid's menus in California, thanks to a new law that experts say is a public health win against the devastating effects of sugary drinks. The Healthy-By-Default Kids’ Meal Beverages Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2019, makes California (39.1% Latino) the first state to require water or milk as the beverage automatically offered with kids’ meals at restaurants, according to Voices For Healthy Kids. The change also bans the display of sugary drinks on kid's menus and ads. A Win For California Parents The new law is the first of its kind. Bipartisan legislators and health advocates supported the law, including Public Health Advocates, a Voices For Healthy Kids grantee. Latino Coalition for a Healthy California also showed ...

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San Antonio’s Daring New Policies for Affordable Housing


Big Ways Cities Can Solve the Affordable Housing Crisis.

Affordable housing is hard to find after home prices surged 25% in the past five years in San Antonio (64% Latino), the San Antonio Express-News reports. About 165,000 people in San Antonio are "overburdened" with housing expenses. They spend more than 30% of their income on rent, mortgage payments, and other costs associated with housing, such as electricity, according to The Rivard Report. This is a threat to a city expected to grow by a million people in the next 20 years. “Just like water, energy and transportation policy, we have to make investments in housing in order to spur inclusive development that delivers prosperity for our entire community," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. How is the city tackling housing? San Antonio OKs Policy Framework, Funding for ...

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Bad News: USDA Relaxes School Food Rules


latino kids in a school food lunch line

Earlier in 2018, over 700 Salud America! members and thousands of others submitted public comments to oppose the USDA's proposed measure that could weaken nutrition standards in schools. Unfortunately, USDA approved its measure. The new rules aim to give schools flexibility in achieving higher nutritional standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium, according to a USDA press release.  Unfortunately, experts say that really means: Schools in the national school lunch and breakfast programs will be allowed to serve flavored, low-fat milk, which is prohibited under existing standards. The requirement for the portion of grains that must qualify as whole-grain-rich will be relaxed. There will be a delay to meeting sodium reduction requirements, even though 9 out of ...

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3 Better Ways to Spend $168 Million than Parking Garages


The park-and-ride at TriMet’s Park Avenue MAX station in Southeast Portland built in 2015. Source: TriMet via Sightline

Michael Anderson is quite unhappy with Portland’s plans for $168 million worth of parking garages for “park-and-ride” users of its future 12-mile rail corridor. Anderson, an urban policy writer and analyst at the social justice nonprofit Sightline Institute, says garages are expensive, serve only a few transit riders, and drain money from more beneficial projects. He suggests three more efficient ways to spend the money while boosting transit ridership: mixed-income homes near transit bike infrastructure better bus and rail service. Anderson also encourages people in Portland Metro to advocate for these alternatives and speak up against the parking garage plans, and join local advocacy groups, like Portlanders for Parking Reform, Portland for Everyone, and ...

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Zero is Florida’s Big Traffic Fatality Goal



One traffic death is too many. That’s why Florida (25.6% Latino) has become the first U.S. state to adopt a goal of zero traffic and pedestrian deaths each year. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) even established safety performance targets to align with its “Driving Down Fatalities” vision for a fatality-free transportation system. Read how they did it below in Part 3 of Salud America!’s three-part series on transportation changes in Florida. Part 1 examined Florida’s reinvention of Complete Streets. Part 2 examined the potential for public transit integration. New Traffic Safety Targets State departments of transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) get money for transportation projects from multiple sources. Each source has ...

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The Midterms: Big Wins (and Losses) for Affordable Housing


affordable housing sign (via Associated Press)

U.S. housing is at its least affordable in 10 years, according to a recent report. So it was no surprise to see lots of affordable housing and rent control measures on local and state ballots during the Nov. 6 midterm election. Voters showed mixed results for affordable housing. Wins occurred in Texas, North Carolina, and Washington. Arizona suffered a big loss. California felt like a split decision. “Tremendous local and state victories on ballot initiatives to address homelessness and housing poverty mean new affordable homes for the people most in need and new alliances and momentum for bigger victories to come,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement. “And yesterday proved that housing is a winning campaign ...

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London to Ban Ads for Junk Food on Public Transit



London will ban advertisements for unhealthy food on public transportation in February 2019, as a publicly approved way to reduce rising obesity rates. Other cities can use the ban as a model. London Obesity London has one of the highest childhood overweight and obesity rates in Europe. Of children ages 10 and 11, more than 37% are overweight or obese. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is particularly concerned because children living in deprived neighborhoods are almost twice as likely to be overweight. “It’s completely unacceptable that in a city as prosperous as London, where you live and the amount you earn can have a massive impact on whether you have access to healthy, nutritious food,” the mayor said in a press release. “I’m determined to change this.” He is ...

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