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News Too Real - Watch mental health tips and Can communities truly heal post-pandemic?

Host addresses Big City Mayors coalition press briefing that is tackling the chronic statewide homelessness problem

By ONME News

In this episode of News Too Real, producer host, Julia Dudley Najieb begins with a review of the late April press briefing with group, The Big City Mayors (BCM) , a coalition of mayors across California’s 13 largest cities, who met with State Leadership in April, and at their urging, both the Assembly and Senate have included $4 billion a year in funding for housing and homelessness over multiple years in their budget priorities, released earlier this month. The BCM coalition includes : San José Mayor and BCM Chair, Sam Liccardo; Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Ángeles; Mayor Todd Gloria, San Diego; Mayor London N. Breed, San Francisco; Mayor Jerry Dyer, Fresno; Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento; Mayor Robert Garcia, Long Beach; Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland; Mayor Karen Goh, Bakersfield; Mayor Harry Sidhu, Anaheim; Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson, Riverside; Mayor Vicente Sarmiento, Santa Ana and Mayor Kevin Lincoln, Stockton. The $4 billion per year, multi-year request came from the average cost of a Project Homekey unit at $148,000. Mayors continue to utilize HEAP and HHAP funding, previous one-time State funding allocations, to build prefabricated dorms, modular housing, tiny homes, and shelters more cost-effectively with state and local dollars. Dudley Najieb shares a video excerpt from the media briefing of BCM Chair Liccardo explaining the coalition's focus.

For Mental Awareness Month, Dudley Najieb reviews 15 tips to help decompress the mind.

The featured story of this podcast, "Can Communities Truly Heal Post-Pandemic?" recaps on Ethnic Media Services (EMS) media briefing addressing the concerns of Black and Brown peoples suffering due to equity issues in access to funding and assistance.

Many communities face crises exacerbated by the pandemic - health care and educational disparities, lack of affordable housing, racism, police abuse, loss of jobs.

Two experts, Dr. Manuel Pastor and Leslie Cooper Johnson discuss their vision for healing post pandemic and what will be required to close the growing inequity gaps separating low-income communities of color from the rest of America.

Dr. Manuel Pastor is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He currently directs the Equity Research Institute at USC. Pastor holds an economics Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC. Pastor was the founding director of the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has previously served as a Public Member of the Strategic Growth Council in California, as a member of the Commission on Regions appointed by California’s Speaker of the State Assembly, and as a member of the Regional Targets Advisory Committee for the California Air Resources Board.

Dr. Pastor talked extensively about the how badly the Black and Latino populations have been affected economically and emotionally after the pandemic; they really need culturally relevant and sensitive resources for mental health to address the trauma they have been dealing with, or are still trying to manage.

Regarding the vaccine, Dr. Pastor said he wished they would have started the marketing effort of all three vaccines in December or earlier before the actual rollout to address which vaccines suit individuals based on their daily job demands; many blue-collar workers are not able to take off two times in a several-week period, just to get a vaccine--one shot, such as the Johnson & Johnson, is easier for such individuals who have rigid working arrangements.

Leslie Cooper Johnson is the Vice President of Organizational Development at Community Coalition. She received both her B.S. in Kinesiology and her MSW from the University of Southern California.

Since joining Community Coalition in 2007, Leslie has coordinated fundraising strategies that have helped the organization raise more than $25 million in funding from government, foundations, corporations and individual donors. In her current role, she is charged with leading strategies to grow the organization’s resources, both human and financial. Leslie currently serves as a member of the Steering Committee for the South LA Transit Empowerment Zone. She is also a graduate of the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute and the African American Board Leadership Institute.

Cooper Johnson said the Community Coalition has been an activist for its South Los Angeles residents for 30 years; she talked about how severely this community has been impacted after the pandemic, due to the pre-existing conditions already present concerning academic achievement, lack of internet access, and lack of income, the COVID-19 exacerbated the problem.

She also suggested that it is imperative for people to know that "racism is the true pandemic; we must call for solutions that are bold, systemic and address root causes."



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