Last year, the Healthy Durham 20/20 Community Engagement Team held four community listening sessions to learn about the unique lived experiences and health needs of people in Durham. Two of those sessions focused on the Latino community and their perspectives on healthcare, housing, and food issues.
The first point of concern was related to the poor quality of housing that many attendees resided in or knew of as primary places for many Hispanic and Latino residents in Durham. Many of the homes were described as “terrible” due to a lack of maintenance performed by landlords.
“People are always increasing your rent but then won’t take that money to improve the apartment for your health,” one participant said.
Participants also highlighted affordability and discrimination issues.
“They build houses here…but they won’t rent them to us. They don’t take our applications. I don’t know why.”
Access to Healthcare and Health Insurance
Community members described being caught between their need for healthcare and the expenses and legal barriers that make it difficult to obtain.
“When we go to the doctor or emergency room, we have a really expensive bill, and for us, we don’t have the resources to pay it. We want to make enough to be able to pay it.”
Fortunately, some community resources in Durham provide a lifeline of support to this vulnerable population.
“A program like LATCH has helped a lot of us as a community. If we didn’t have this program, who would listen to our voices?”
For these participants access to health, in general, was related to nutrition. There was some consensus on the fact that many people in the community rely on fast food to provide cheap and readily available meals for their family.
Affordability and convenience are major food access issues, but not the only factor. Some parents said that, due to the social norms and peer pressure, their children eventually start rejecting healthier food options.
“We give them fruits and vegetables when they’re little, and when they’re older they don’t want them anymore.”
Suggested Next Steps
- Renter’s Rights Forums
- Expand programs like the Durham Affordable Housing Preservation Fund and invest in the Durham Community Land Trusts
- Provide training and financial incentives to landlords who are low-resourced
- See the full report for more