COMMUNITY PUBLIC HEALTH
HERE'S MY PLAN TO PROTECT THE HEALTH OF OUR COMMUNITY
I believe that the future of Austin will be defined by how we work together to lift up ALL members of our communities. Our residential, economic, and school segregation keep Austin as divided today as it was nearly a century ago. Nearly 30% of our District 2 community are uninsured and have limited access to health services. We must do better for our working families of today and for the families of tomorrow.
I believe that city planning isn’t a neutral act; it’s a reflection of our values. Here’s my plan to support community health and how I will ensure that we make Austin an even more livable community.
I fundamentally believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
Here’s my plan to improve our community health:
Invest in Community Health Workers
As we work toward building community resilience, I support increasing the employment of certified Community Health Workers (CHWs) and service coordinators to help residents navigate the health care system in a culturally competent manner and to promote health literacy. CHWs are uniquely positioned to help our community with all aspects of health access, including navigating the healthcare system and social services in times of disaster and recovery.
Invest in a
Senior Health Navigator
The greater Austin area is among the fastest-growing areas for people ages of 55 and over. As we work toward becoming an age-friendly city, I support the investment in a full-time paid employee to serve as Senior Health Navigator. This navigator will be focused on connecting seniors to city services and resources for affordable, accessible, and holistic care that will build a vibrant and productive senior community. This navigator will help all Seniors in need to navigate our healthcare systems, specifically Medicare and Medicaid.
Improve Health Care Delivery
I will advocate expanding care delivery in under-resourced areas via options such as colocating, building new brick & mortar facilities, and expanding the use of telemedicine. I will work with CapMetro and other transportation partners to expand and enhance transportation options (e.g., number of accessible vehicles and routes in the region) for members of our community who have difficulty reliably traveling to healthcare appointments.
Support the Bergstrom Spur Trail
I support the redevelopment of the Bergstrom Spur, an abandoned rail corridor stretching from Vinson Dr. in southwest Austin to US 183 near Austin Bergstrom International Airport, into a well-utilized, safe, and interconnected east-west multimodal corridor. This is an important link for connecting bicycle, pedestrian, trail, and public transportation networks and will provide safe opportunities for our community to be physically active and enjoy the outdoors.
Support Park Renovation Projects & Expand Parkland
I support improvements at Onion Creek Metro Park and the effort to leverage creek buffers as an open space opportunity, specifically for the environmentally sensitive areas along creeks as an opportunity for increased natural areas and greenbelts. I support the acquisition of additional parkland to ensure greenspace accessibility. I also support efforts to expand farmers’ markets and concerts in our Parks programming.
Maintain & Improve Onion Creek, Williamson Creek, & Marble Creek Trail
The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of having public infrastructure that supports community health. Expanding and maintaining the Onion Creek, Williamson Creek, and Marble Creek Trail has become a matter of public safety. The lack of proper infrastructure makes it difficult if not impossible in some areas to maintain proper social distancing.
Expand Access to Healthy Food
We have long-standing food deserts in District 2. In order to ensure that every Austinite has food choice, I champion the creation of a grocery co-op model to pilot in Del Valle. This should involve using publicly owned land along with the creation of innovative partnerships with the community. Additionally, we need to develop a Food System Division with a stable funding source and authority to lead the planning and implementation of a resilient Regional Food System. This Regional Food System should envision food access as a right and include emergency planning and coordination for inevitable disruptions to supply.
Promote Environmental Health
It’s important that we identify publicly owned land for use as parkland, trails or green space in areas of high need. I will support the automatic incorporation of green space in private development plans.
Address Health Disparities in Chronic Disease
Many in our community lack knowledge of the many services, resources, and programs that exist for the prevention, detection, and treatment of chronic disease. As a majority Latino community, we are disproportionately at risk for chronic illnesses and disparate health outcomes. There are challenges when interacting with the healthcare system, including navigating health insurance, finding in-network doctors, and understanding the medical paperwork. Addressing these issues will require focusing on how we go about educating our community on the importance of preventive and routine screenings. I will champion providing culturally-appropriate and bilingual education and screenings at sites that serve at-risk and underserved populations. These settings should include public housing, libraries, schools, homeless shelters, or education kiosks in community laundromats and markets.