The Health Equity and Community Engagement Division offers a variety programs addressing health equity in our community to ensure that everyone has equal access to health and human services. The division also focuses on social services policies, planning and evaluation, HIV Resources Administration, and community transformation (DSRIP) programs.

A Statement of Solidarity Against Racism

Austin’s vision, in part, is to be a beacon of social equity. At Austin Public Health, we believe we play a critical role in helping our community achieve that vision. Austin Public Health continues to stand against racism and social injustice. We stand by our department’s vision that everyone will have optimal quality of life and well-being. We acknowledge that the road to that vision will be different for each community. And, as a City department, we stand committed to working with our community residents and partners to develop programs and strategies relevant to those needs.

A Minneapolis City Council Member recently referred to the racism that killed George Floyd as a public health emergency. In a recent statement, the American Public Health Association (APHA) said, “Racism attacks peoples’ physical and mental health, and racism is an ongoing public health crisis that needs our attention now!”

At Austin Public Health, we know that both national and local community health data makes this statement ring true. If we acknowledge that the social determinants of health – where we are born, work, live, learn, eat, play, worship, and age – have a significant effect on a wide range of health and quality of life outcomes, we also have to acknowledge how the racism inherent in these systems drives the inequitable outcomes for Blacks and other communities of color. This is demonstrated by the national and local health data that show disparate rates of chronic disease and illness, HIV infection, and disproportionate mortality rates in Black and Latino communities. 

There has been tremendous work on the part of this community to work towards equity.  Still, recent events are a sobering reminder that we can do more, we can do better. Austin Public Health stands ready to continue to listen, partner, and act in concert with the community until our vision that everyone will have optimal quality of life and well-being is achieved.