In Summer 2019, Healthier Perth Amboy (HPA) was a major stakeholder in the first meeting to incorporate a housing element into the city’s Master Plan. The Planning Principal received Healthier Perth Amboy’s policy suggestions and intends to utilize them when drafting the housing element. Although Healthier Perth Amboy has made several strides in housing equity, the coalition realizes that there are several challenges ahead, including community engagement, data collection, and information sharing.
To help with these challenges, HPA has called upon some nearby allies: the community coalitions in New Brunswick, Trenton and Newark. Coalitions within these cities have done impressive housing work, and their advice will make a significant impact in Healthier Perth Amboy’s actions going forward. Through separate funding from County Health Rankings and Roadmaps and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Prize programs, we were able to create an affinity group with these municipalities to host site visits in which each city teaches the others about their healthy housing strategies.
Perth Amboy was the first to host, and we were able to share the policy work we have conducted so far. We are excited to meet in the other three cities to see what others are doing in New Jersey, and how we could use these strategies to improve our own work during the Upstream Action Acceleration grant period.
An important lesson we have learned is that sometimes when a coalition needs help, it can be best to look outward instead of inward. We will continue to use this affinity group approach to guide us through future challenges.