Housing is integral to our collective wellness and overall public health, as is the food we eat. Food and housing are the two most significant social determinants of health and wellbeing. However, while social services that mitigate food and housing insecurity are essential, these services alone will not resolve our problems. In order to create the kind of healthy ecosystem of humanitarian support necessary for long-term community success, we need to move out of service silos and centralize decision-making relationships with movement builders, artists, advocates, direct service providers and other community partners who bring a fuller perspective of issues and solutions. That alone requires a paradigm shift that fundamentally alters the way we work together to solve seemingly intractable problems.

The current pandemic has brought many problem-solvers out of our silos. This process encouraged working with new partners to address the pain and disruption in our communities. Those of us who choose to stay together and work collectively for the common good understand why we must continue to do so.

We must not go back to sleep. What can we learn from global movements that profoundly impact and connect our survival during this pandemic and future crises? At Maverick Landing Community Services, we are building an intersectional coalition that uses a social ecology framework. In a social ecology framework, people, organizations, institutions, and our natural environment are interdependent. That awareness translates into collective action. Movements are the most resilient and interdependent in this framework model. The fluidity of their structure makes them adaptive and vital vehicles in moments of massive collective change, such as the one we are in now.

Today, our working definition of housing equity includes health, race, disability, and other measures of equity and justice, centering on the people most impacted by a lack of access to housing and health equity. Our political frameworks and understanding of this moment offer an opportunity to deepen our intersectional analysis and collective memory on amplifying collective wellbeing, care, and safety strategies that have worked in our past and that can strengthen our futures. The political frameworks that fuel our vision of Health Equity include Economic Justice, Racial Justice, Language Justice, Disability Justice, Healing Justice, Holistic Security, Transformative Justice, Reproductive Justice, Racial and Gender Justice, Trans Justice, Environmental Justice, and Climate Justice.

All must guide our collective future.

Together, our coalition builds collective power that supports what it takes for people to survive and thrive in East Boston. A core value of that work is a commitment to using our collective knowledge and resources to create the world we want to see—that means folding together community-based arts programming, learning circles, youth engagement in the arts, and advocacy. Our combined efforts will continue to build community understanding of gentrification by utilizing skills and culture to address gaps in knowledge regarding the inter-relatedness between housing insecurity, food sovereignty, systemic racism, and other systemic inequities.

Read the full article about housing equity by Rita Lara and Jules Rochielle Sievert at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.