September 17, 2020

Chicago Department of Public Health and Community Partners Address Health and Racial Inequities with Launch of Healthy Chicago 2025 Plan and Movement

Community health improvement plan is dedicated to closing the nearly 9-year racial life expectancy gap

Alicia McGhee     alicia.mcghee@cityofchicago.org

CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) joined with community partners today to launch Healthy Chicago 2025, the city’s next community health needs assessment and improvement plan dedicated to tackling health and racial inequities. Healthy Chicago 2025 is a plan and also a community-driven movement to address social inequities, with the primary goal being to close the life expectancy gap between the Black and white communties that has risen to 8.8 years in Chicago, and nearly double that between some specific communities.

The five-year plan seeks to address social conditions that have been created by decades of segregation and systemic racism, the effects of which are laid bare by COVID-19. It includes specific proposals to increase access to healthy foods, quality healthcare and housing, and create safe spaces for all Chicagoans to live, work and play. A Healthy Chicago 2025 virtual launch event held today can be viewed here.

“We all share the vision of a more healthy, just, and equitable Chicago, and that our zip code should not determine our life expectancy,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “That is why I am so excited about the launch of Healthy Chicago 2025 and its framework to ensure that every resident has access to the resources they need to live the healthy life they deserve.”

The largest contributors to the racial life expectancy gap are chronic disease (4.3 years), gun-related homicide (2.1 years), infant mortality (0.7 years), HIV/infectious disease (0.5 years), and opioid overdose (0.4 years). What CDPH and its partners sought to understand and address are the causes of these inequities, which are further upstream and reflect the conditions in which people live. The plan sets a goal of closing that gap within one generation.

“This plan was developed following more than a year of input from a wide variety of Chicagoans and it values the lived experiences and priorities of community members,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “The plan is a call to action for partners both within government and out in the community to work together to ensure everyone in Chicago is able to live a safe and healthy life.”

The Healthy Chicago 2025 assessment was led by CDPH in collaboration with the Partnership for Healthy Chicago, a coalition of over 40 stakeholders representing the broad spectrum of Chicago’s public health system. Every five years CDPH works with partners on a plan to improve community health and well being, and the 2025 plan builds off the original Healthy Chicago plan and Healthy Chicago 2.0.

“I’m really excited about the depth of thought that went into considering how we can make racial equity, economic development and collaborative community engagement the core work of community health,” said Rev. Dr. Kirsten Peachey, Co-Director, the Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation. “This shift is critical if we want to cultivate the healthy, thriving communities that we all dream about.”

Data were collected and priorities identified through more than 4,000 online surveys, 42 focus groups and collaborations with community-based organizations including Family Focus, I AM ABLE Center for Family Development and the Network of Woodlawn.

The Healthy Chicago 2025 assessment identified four themes that will guide interventions:

  • Transform policies and processes to foster anti-racist, multicultural systems
  • Strengthen community capacity and youth leadership
  • Improve systems of care for populations most affected by inequities
  • Further the health and vibrancy of neighborhoods

A wide variety of action steps were also identified, including in the areas of housing, food access, the environment, public safety, and neighborhood planning and development. In the next five years, the Healthy Chicago 2025 coalition will tackle the root causes of health through changes to policies, systems, and living conditions. Specific initiatives include:

  • Support local, minority-owned businesses to participate in the food supply chain and increase access to affordable, healthy foods in neighborhoods and schools
  • Establish a comprehensive health and human services information and referral system so all Chicagoans know where to go for help
  • Create more opportunities for community decision-making through health and racial equity impact assessments of City projects and policies
  • Green vacant lots to promote community safety and mental wellness
  • Conduct learning activities to help organizations advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within the public health system
  • Establish a citywide dashboard of equity measures that partners collectively agree on to guide their work and measure its impact on the life expectancy gap.

“The Metropolitan Planning Council is excited to have been a partner in co-creating Healthy Chicago 2025 with the Partnership and community members,” said Chloe Gurin-Sands, Manager of Health Equity and Planning at MPC and co-chair of the Partnership for Healthy Chicago. “Racial equity is at the heart of creating healthy and vibrant neighborhoods, and we look forward to collaborating on moving these goals forward.”

To measure success CDPH will continue to track the 75+ Healthy Chicago 2.0 indicators; data on those indicators can be found on the Chicago Health Atlas (chicagohealthatlas.org). In addition, over the next year the City will further engage community members and other experts to co-create Chicago’s first-ever equity dashboard – metrics related to closing the life expectancy gap, from measures of structural and institutional equity to living conditions and health outcomes. This will guide not only Healthy Chicago 2025 implementation but also the work of the Mayor’s Office for Equity & Racial Justice and the creation of Chicago’s Citywide Plan.

“There is so much beauty, power and resilience within our neighborhoods,” said Leticia Boughton Price and Wandy Hernandez-Gordon of the Illinois Community Health Worker Association. “Healthy Chicago 2025 recognizes that we have to build on these strengths, like how Community Health Workers/Promotoras de Salud have historically supported communities in and around Chicago to improve access to care. Healthy Chicago 2025 will continue to guide us as we work for a healthier Chicago for all.”

For more information on the Healthy Chicago 2025 assessment and plan, visit https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdph/provdrs/healthy_communities/svcs/healthy-chicago-2025.html. Partners can also explore more than 160 indicators of community health and well-being on the Chicago Health Atlas website, www.chicagohealthatlas.org.

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