This week’s episode takes us to a local level in Alameda County, California, where we chat with Jae, the Executive Director of the Street Level Health Project. The Street Level Health Project provides safety net services for immigrant communities to ensure equitable health access for the uninsured, tackles institutional and systemic barriers to create an inclusive society that honors the historical contributions of immigrant communities and addresses income security to empower low-income contingent workers and reduce health disparities associated with unemployment and underemployment.
Jae describes the role of the Street Level Health Project as the “safety net of the safety net.” Their Health Access Program (HAP) is a critical entry point in the health care and social service system for a marginalized population excluded from the Affordable Care Act; as well as working poor who are unable to afford Covered California and have incomes that exceed the eligibility requirements for public benefits (138% – 200% FPL [Federal Poverty Line] FPL for a single person is $16,395). Their work has supported thousands of low to no-income adults in a geographic area of Oakland (zip codes 94601 and 94606) where census data reports 48% of households live below the federal poverty levels and 16,000 adults live at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
This is where it is totally clear that I am a passionate and self-proclaimed public health nerd. The easy way to put it, is that the work Street Level Health Project is doing directly improves the overall health outcomes of the populations they serve by addressing what is known as the Social Deteminans of Health.
Understanding the day to day work of a program such as the Street Level Health Project will help you identify how you can get further involved in your own community if you are not local to Alameda County. There are so many ways to support the work of safety net organizations to not only impact improving overall health.