Health and Well-Being Matter is the monthly blog of the Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Health and well-being can only be realized through shared commitment and action. There are seemingly infinite points when the many facets of our lives intersect and affect our health and well-being. Deliberate and meaningful collaboration, investment, and understanding of the interconnectedness of communities, governments, the private sector, and other organizations that impact people where they live is integral to equitably achieving and sustaining greater resilience for all. This defines shared stewardship.
To highlight the discussions that occur at such “crossroads,” over the coming months I’ll be inviting federal partners to contribute to this blog by sharing their perspectives on how to improve individual and community health, well-being, and resilience. This month, I’m pleased to welcome Victoria Brown, Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Below, she offers her perspectives on HUD’s approach to building robust communities in context of the recently released Federal Plan for Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience (Federal Plan for ELTRR or the Plan).
HUD’s mission “to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all” requires cooperation with a broad and increasingly diverse coalition. Through its work to advance equitable housing and urban development, HUD’s activities often intersect with those of agencies and organizations outside of housing — both governmental and non-governmental — and span several domains from the Vital Conditions for Health and Well-Being framework.
This reality demands collaboration that transcends a shared awareness of mutual interests and must overcome preconceived boundaries that can limit true partnership. HUD’s investment in local entities and its intentional focus on “civic muscle” is akin to a melding of needs, interests, resources, and tools, despite presumed agency — and it exemplifies shared stewardship.
As you’ll read in Victoria Brown’s post, progress is being made. At the heart of that progress is HUD’s commitment to understanding the interconnected nature of our communities and their systems and a commitment to finding better ways to meet the unique needs of communities. HUD’s example — like others that we’ll highlight as the Plan is adopted — demonstrates that when it comes to establishing more equitable and lasting resilience for all, “together” is truly the only way forward.
Yours in health,
Paul Reed, MD
Rear Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health
Director, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
In Officio Salutis — In the Service of Health
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The Federal Plan for Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience (Federal Plan for ELTRR or the Plan) puts community at the forefront. At the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), we strongly believe that the communities we serve also need to be at the center of program design and implementation.
No single agency can accomplish equitable recovery and enhanced resilience of communities alone. We all benefit when agencies collaborate to constructively share best practices, lessons learned, and expertise. As much as the framework itself gives agencies a roadmap for equitable long-term recovery and resilience, the process of development has some powerful lessons to share.
Our federal agencies and staff rose to the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. They brought their expertise and a vision to employ that knowledge beyond the silos that too often confine our potential for change and broader improvement. The end result is a framework that resonates across disciplines and speaks to the conditions that allow people to thrive — what we should all be working toward.
For HUD, housing is a platform for well-being across the Vital Conditions for Health and Well-Being framework. More than simply shelter, housing is a system with many influences on our lives. Humane housing can create foundations of wealth, savings, and credit — and it provides a point from which to interact with our communities. Most importantly, it can function as a secure center for our families and our communal lives. It also lends itself to HUD’s expansive definition of resilience.
For us, the definition of resilience is an inclusive one that embraces and incorporates everything from the physical buildings and infrastructure that make up our houses and neighborhoods to the systems that transform those structures into homes and communities.
Governmental offices spanning from that of the President to countless local jurisdictions across the country have passed, enacted, or implemented historic levels of funding and programs that align with the Vital Conditions for Health and Well-being framework and the recommendations in the Federal Plan for ELTRR. At HUD, we’ve taken the collaborative and cross-cutting approach exemplified by the Plan and turned many of these ideas into action, including:
- HUD has published its new Climate Action Plan that renews focus on environmental justice and supports communities in their efforts to adapt to and be resilient to climate change. We drafted the plan with direction from local communities and organizations throughout the nation, including affordable housing and climate advocates at the state and local level and industry leaders — as well as with inputs from federal agencies.
- Disaster recovery is a critical element to advancing overall climate resilience. HUD allocates billions of dollars through its Disaster Recovery programs. For the first time in the history of the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program, HUD is seeking public comment on how to improve the program. This is an example of HUD’s dedication and commitment to shared stewardship to build climate resilience in communities.
- HUD also participates in shared stewardship across the federal government. We’ve worked closely with the Interagency Council and other federal agencies to draft the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. We’re addressing unsheltered homelessness, demonstrating the positive impact of a housing-first approach, and illuminating evidence-based practices as a call to action to improve housing stability for people and families experiencing homelessness.
- HUD co-chairs the PAVE Interagency Task Force, which is working to evaluate the causes, extent, and consequences of appraisal bias and to establish a transformative set of recommendations to root out racial and ethnic bias in home valuations.
- HUD is working collaboratively on numerous fronts — for example, to meet the goals of the current Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, to increase the supply of affordable housing, to build people’s financial assets, and to improve housing opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.
What we’ve learned is this: The resources at the federal government’s disposal are too large to be implemented in silos — and ultimately, the recommendations in the Federal Plan for ELTRR will manifest at the local level. Shared stewardship, partnerships at the state, regional, and local levels, and cross-agency collaboration will be critical to realizing the Plan’s vision for a resilient and equitable society that centers belonging and civic muscle squarely within the communities it seeks to improve.
Deputy Chief of Staff
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development