How DEI Impacts Our Work

AI’s experience generally focuses on serving underrepresented, marginalized communities including people who are of low-income, suffer health-related disparities, are experiencing homelessness, are elderly, have a disability or are members of racial, ethnic or other minority groups.

AI has done many studies and needs assessments related to people with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, those who have disparate access to healthcare and other services and other populations that are marginalized or vulnerable. This work requires AI staff to be aware of those individuals in our own community and beyond who are similarly marginalized or vulnerable.

COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the inequities and disparities rooted in racism, bigotry and systemic policies that have always existed. Lack of housing, access to healthcare, educational disparities and workforce barriers in communities of color are only symptoms of a much larger problem.

Housing and Homelessness

Did you know that Black Americans make up 13% of the general population, but more than 40% of the homeless population?[1] That is just one of many shocking racial disparities seen when it comes to housing and homelessness. 

The disproportionality in homelessness seen today is only a byproduct of systemic inequity. African Americans and other minority groups have systematically been denied their rights and socioeconomic opportunities. Poverty, segregation/rental housing discrimination, incarceration and access to quality health care are all areas that impact rates of homelessness.[2]

In addition to Black Americans and other members of the BIPOC community facing disparities in homelessness, AI also works to assess the disparities faced by members of the LGBTQ community, as well as those who are experiencing comorbidities, such as a mental illness and substance use.

Health and Wellness

“Racism is considered a fundamental cause of adverse health outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities and racial/ethnic equities in health.”[3]

New evidence has begun linking racism-related stress to racial health disparities. Additionally, mistrust and lack of concordance in the medical field has led to further disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.

Currently, due to systemic policies, disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on BIPOC communities are being seen nationwide. Preventing racial disparities in the COVID-19 mitigation efforts, including participation in the vaccine and testing efforts, will be important.

Some members of AI have completed and received a certificate for a Foundations of Health Equity Research course offered by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This course is taught by Dr. Lisa A. Cooper, M.D., and Tanjala S. Purnell, PhD MPH. 

Aging and Disability

According to the CDC, one in four US adults live with a disability, where cognitive disability was found to be most common in younger adults while mobility was found to be the most common for other age groups.[4] This upward trend is likely to continue as many of today’s youth mature and experience complications related to being overweight. Likewise, as the population continues to age

The number of Americans age 60 and older continues to grow, as too does the instances of ageism. Ageism refers to a type of discrimination that involves prejudice against people based on their age. This discrimination can lead to mental health problems, disparities in health care and employment and impact other areas of a person’s life, as well as their close ones. 

The National Institute on Aging: Strategic Directions for Research, 2021-2025 specifies a goal directly related to health DEI and aging:

Goal F: Understand Health Disparities Related to Aging and Develop Strategies to Improve the Health Status of Older Adults in Diverse Populations.[5]

 

 

[1] https://endhomelessness.org/resource/racial-inequalities-homelessness-numbers/

[2] https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/what-causes-homelessness/inequality/

[3] https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040218-043750

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0816-disability.html

[5] https://www.nia.nih.gov/about/aging-strategic-directions-research/goal-health-disparities-adults