Winter 2022 Newsletter

Equitable policymaking in 2022

Dear Friends,

ChangeLab Solutions is entering 2022 in an energetic phase of expansion; we’re growing our team and our partnerships to initiate projects that promote health in communities across the country. Building on valuable lessons we’ve learned in two years of working for health equity during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are expanding in four areas: 

  • Protecting public health authority 
  • Equitable enforcement strategies 
  • Housing justice
  • Policymaking for rural communities

By focusing on these key areas, we hope to undo the harms of discriminatory policies, increase community resilience, and strengthen our nation’s ability to respond to future pandemics. 

Read more about our projects for 2022 below.

As always, feel free to reach out with questions, ideas, or opportunities for future partnerships. 

With gratitude,

Sarah de Guia, JD
CEO, ChangeLab Solutions


Protecting Public Health

Public Health Authority

Public health authority, which allows public health agencies to carry out both preventive and emergency actions, is critical in protecting Americans from immediate threats like COVID-19 as well as future disasters, but many state legislatures are stripping authority from state and local health departments. ChangeLab Solutions, as part of the Public Health Law Partnership, is conducting legal research and analysis to address current challenges to public health authority. This partnership stands ready to offer strategies, collaboration, and solutions to help state and local leaders protect public health.

To aid public health practitioners in understanding how law, policy, and public health intersect, ChangeLab Solutions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to expand our collection of free trainings and resources from the Public Health Law Academy. Our latest training series on administrative law explores the scope of health departments’ regulatory authority to protect public health and how their staff members can promote equity in their day-to-day work.

Equitable Enforcement Strategies

A person whose belongings are in a shopping cart being handed keys to a residence

In a landscape of increasing racial disparities, creating equitable enforcement strategies is essential. Equitable enforcement can promote racial and health justice, increase community resilience, and improve outcomes during public health emergencies and beyond. We continue to build on the work outlined in our guide Equitable Enforcement to Achieve Health Equity, which translates a theoretical framework into practical applications. Our team is working across media ― from articles to podcasts to case studies ― to address issues such as underenforcement and how enforcement of paid leave regulations affects children and families. We’re also developing a virtual training series on equitable enforcement strategies for people who are working on safe and affordable housing. Stay tuned!

Housing Justice

A collection of housing buildings

As the pandemic continues to have a severe effect on housing affordability and related issues such as substandard housing, exposure to environmental hazards, and disproportionate rates of evictions, we are advancing our work with the Housing Solutions Collaborative — a cohort of eight cross-sector teams from small and mid-sized cities across the United States. We provide tailored technical assistance and create a shared foundation for collective problem solving, building each jurisdiction’s knowledge and capacity to meet their housing policy goals. Throughout the year, we’ll be sharing stories on our work for the benefit of other communities with similar housing policy goals.

ChangeLab Solutions' housing team is also updating our resources on proactive rental inspections (PRI). This approach replaces complaint-based housing code enforcement with universal periodic inspections, thereby decreasing barriers to enforcement, such as tenants’ fear of retaliation from landlords for filing a complaint. PRI can be a crucial part of a locality's efforts to reduce in-home health threats, preserve housing affordability, and advance health equity.

Rural Communities

A rural landscape with family walking along a path to a building

Home to 1 in 5 people in the United States, rural communities contribute to our economy, culture, and rich history. However, rural communities face complex and nuanced policy challenges. Rising housing costs, lack of access to health care, high rates of substance use, and limited job opportunities are disproportionately affecting communities of color in rural areas. These deepening and persistent health, social, and economic inequities have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic crisis on top of long-standing racial injustices. As part of the Thrive Rural Initiative, ChangeLab Solutions will be partnering with community stakeholders, local and state policymakers, and community-based organizations to identify and advance high-impact policies and practices that improve racial, economic, and health equity for communities and Native nations across the rural United States.