New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities

Where you live in Alexandria can determine your life expectancy, and a newly released City plan is focusing on removing the effects of decades of discriminatory practices.

The Community Health Improvement Plan 2025 (CHIP) is a blueprint to address poverty, mental health, and housing policies and systems in the city. For instance, the average life expectancy in the city’s heavily Hispanic Arlandria neighborhood is 78, while more affluent areas like Old Town have a life expectancy of 87.

“These differences are a result of decades of discriminatory policies and systems that are now built into City processes, our environment, and how community and organizational decisions are made,” notes the CHIP. ” The global pandemic, economic crisis, and racial and social injustice in 2020 only exacerbated these differences in health.”

Hundreds of city residents participated in the creation of the document, which includes numerous priorities highlighted in the 2019 Community Health Assessment, including housing, mental health, and poverty as areas needing improvement.

“Each priority area contains strategies, tactics, timelines, progress measures and tactic owners (the responsible organization or institution) to ensure accountability and effective implementation,” the city said.

Each priority area has an organization that has agreed to take it on.

As Alexandria contends with an affordable housing crisis, one goal would add affordable housing units to new city government and recreational buildings. The city’s Office of Housing is partnering with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership to devise strategies, which include the conversion of hotels into affordable housing apartment complexes.

The development of the CHIP coincided with the revision of the “Alexandria City Public Schools’ 2025 Strategic Plan” and the “Children and Youth Master Plan 2025, and the city says a “Unified Planning Team” will work toward community engagement opportunities and shared outcomes.

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