Prevention Institute applauds the governor’s proposal for historic investments to improve community conditions that support health—from parks to education to housing.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s ambitious budget revision injects historic investments into education, housing, and parks. These investments will reduce health inequities by addressing the community conditions that make it possible for people to be healthy and safe. Prevention Institute strongly supports these budget proposals as an effective way to reduce the health inequities that COVID-19 brought into the spotlight and begin moving toward racial justice in the California budget.
Newsom proposes a $20 billion investment to re-imagine California public schools that will bring per-pupil-spending to nearly $14,000, almost double from 10 years ago. Additionally, Governor Newsom proposes $12 billion, the highest in the state’s history, to end homelessness and provide housing support at all levels of need.
The budget revision also sets aside nearly $1 billion for increasing access to the outdoors and environmental education, including $125 million to build new parks and recreation infrastructure in park-poor communities, consistent with Prop 68’s commitment to channel funding directly to high-need communities, and $200 million in funding for urban greening to strengthen climate protections for California’s most vulnerable residents and create more open green spaces.
Prevention Institute Health Equity Director Elva Yañez lauded the governor’s proposed park investments as beneficial for health and longevity in Black and Brown communities. Yañez led the organization’s collaboration with UCLA’s Department of Environment Health Sciences and seven base-building organizations on a study of park inequity in Los Angeles County. The study, Park Equity, Life Expectancy, and Power Building, found that increasing park acreage in communities with park deficits and low tree canopy could add 165,000 years of life expectancy across LA County, including 118,000 years of life expectancy in Black and Latino communities.
“We all know how important parks and green spaces have been during the pandemic, and new research even shows that as green space inequities shrink, so to do racial inequities in COVID infection. Parks played a crucial role in helping people cope and find safe ways to maintain social connections during a time when we need to stay physically distanced,” Yañez said. “But—throughout California—African Americans, Latinos, and people who live in low-income, urban neighborhoods have less access to parks and green spaces than people who live in more affluent or predominantly white communities.
“Governor Newsom’s proposed investments in parks will put us on a path toward park equity and make a meaningful difference in community health and people’s lives. We just need to make sure they go to the communities that need them most.”
Urban parks and green spaces confer life-saving health benefits, helping people to maintain health and prevent chronic conditions like type-II diabetes, heart disease, and high-blood pressure. The benefits of parks aren’t just physical. Physical activity and contact with nature help increase concentration, reduce stress, fend off depression, and even support healing from adverse experiences and trauma. Parks also filter air, remove pollution, cool temperatures, and filter stormwater.
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