ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new task force of the Albany County Legislature is working to ensure that people and communities of color are guaranteed effective services and improved access to better health care, nutrition and affordable housing.
The Legislature’s Minority Health and Equity Task Force was commissioned by Chairman Andrew Joyce in January and is led by Legislator Wanda Willingham, who also chairs the Legislature’s Audit and Finance Committee. The group was formed to review various issues in minority communities, including the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, which has struggled due to access issues and hesitancy among constituents.
Other areas that are being addressed include access to health care, crime, opportunities for youth, childcare availability, as well as housing and blight.
“The pandemic has shined a light on racial and ethnic health disparities,” said Willingham. “As we enact policies and implement strategies to end this pandemic, we also must take bold action to rebuild our healthcare system and public health infrastructure on a foundation of equity.”
The members of the Task Force have been compiling data about COVID-19 cases, income disparities, poverty levels, workforce demographics, unemployment rates, labor force participation and crime rates. The data is broken down by zip code to get a better understanding where different neighborhoods stand on these issues compared to the County as a whole.
The Task Force will then review County policies regarding training and make recommendations to programmatic shortfalls. In addition, the Task Force will review the yearly funding the County provides for social services, mental health, recreation and non-profits.
The Task Force expects to begin wrapping up their work this summer with a final report released in September.