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Advancing Community wellness in the Coachella Valley

Community Listening Forum: Coachella


·         Overcrowding - more focused on the concept of precariously housed as overcrowding is a bigger issue for the larger population in this community

o   Multiple families living together due to a lack of documentation or migration

o   Multiple people also don’t have enough income to qualify on their own for rentals, so they live together in homes/units that are too small

o   The community is resilient – “we don’t have another option but to resist” - they will do whatever they need to

o   The migration based on work changes leads to high mobility

o   People renting out to families are not being monitored

o   Permits for homeowners to convert garages, attics, etc. into livable areas to rent out

·         Understanding root causes – some people refuse to go into shelters

o   Connecting individuals to mental health and substance abuse programs to improve access

o   Ex. Parents have 3 jobs causing limited supervision for children – what is the impact of stress for the parents and children?

·         There needs to be more service awareness for the entire community

o   Increase advertisement for programs that help low income – review and improve current messaging methods and education tools

o   Increased funding for outreach services (Ex. CVRM and Street Life Project)

o   Learn from projects that are working with specific youth-targeted programs

o   Homeless mapping system – match volunteers/services to homeless

·         Lack of affordable housing – this is a clear problem across the entire valley

o   Assistance for people making minimum wage or less

o   How are there programs with free ipad’s /free phones and not more assistance for housing? This money could be better allocated

o   Removing the barrier of immigration status – more programs providing legal assistance

o   Low-income housing options for students

·         Emergency shelters

o   Designate more shelters for Coachella Valley

o   Shelters that are for adults, that have less limitations, and that are more family friendly

·         Rent control issues

o   Families can be renting and then out of nowhere, they are faced with rent increase and no rent control after the first 3 months – education on understanding rental and homeowner rights

o   People who are undocumented have funds; however, they do not have credit which impacts their ability to rent

o   No access for short-term leases/varying lease terms

o   Requirements and limitations make is tough for people to qualify

o   Create more assistance programs available to all (not just farmworkers)

·         Help “bring distinctions” to different types of homelessness and help attribute appropriate services for each category: recently homeless, youth homeless, chronic homeless

·         Financial assistance – additional help between unstable harvest seasons and for first time home buyers

·         More bridge housing options – tiny house models similar to Seattle and Portland

·         Homeless assistance resources – more attention focused on necessities

o   Cart items (water, cell phones, etc.)

o   Outdoor lockers for storage

·         Housing matching between rich families/snow birds and seasonal farm workers

Primary Care and Behavioral Health Access:

·          Behavioral health and youth

o   The social pressures students are faced with is causing drug use, cutting, etc.

o   Increased access to specialized services in the school setting – someone they trust and depend on

§  Often counselors/therapists only come to the schools a couple times a week and students have limited visits and appointment availability

§  More trauma-informed counseling

o   Parental education - help identify warning signs in students

o   We need to address the connection between social media and the health of students - Are there services offered to help prepare children when on social media sites?

o   Parental training on behavioral health issues – how can they learn to identify problems and help talk about the “taboo” issues?

·         Improved, in-school education on sexual health, reproductive health, domestic violence, and overall well-being

·         Low ratio of providers to population and limited availability of appointments – more welcomed walk-ins

o   Limited to the provider you can access – this is an insurance and clinic problem

o   More providers utilizing appointment-only schedules with high wait times

o   Increased mobile health units or specialist rotations to address lack of providers

·         Preventative practices – screenings, needle exchange, sanitizing stations

·         Lower doctor visit fees and improve ways to reduce medication expenses with a 24-hour pharmacy

·         Fear of doctor visits – more culturally competent, empathetic care

o   Medical services are different depending on where you go (equality of care)

§  Ex. Kaiser in Indio provides different services compared to the Kaiser in Palm Desert

·         Transportation to medical appointments – seniors, homeless, families with no vehicle

·         Challenges with dental service coverage and access – paying out of pocket for necessary services

·         Help share what primary care looks like for a young generation

·         Increase conversation about the Desert Regional Medical Center’s future

Healthy Eating, Active Living:

·         Safety issues – there is a lack of sidewalks, no lighting, and stray dogs

o   Increased security is needed at local parks to address safety concerns about substance use, homeless, needles, etc.

·         There are limited green spaces; however, the community is not utilizing what is available

o   Identify reasons why people are not using the parks – is it because of safety or time?

·         Increase activity in the families – everything begins at the home

o   Help parents take the initiative and model healthy behaviors for their children

o   The second generation needs to create initiative for the third generation

o   Find out how technology advancements are impacting sedentary behaviors

o   Education around utilizing health monitoring apps

·         There is concern of the poor nutritional quality of food served in schools

o   There needs to be more parental campaigning around removing sugary food/beverages

o   Find ways to change the habits of children – encourage change to healthier foods

§  Parents need to set the example in the homes

o   Find more ways to implement nutritional education directly in schools

o   Find out how the low-quality food is impacting the health of students

·         Community-driven nutritional education

o   Community gardens, educational classes, more Blue Apron models, a food co-op, community kitchens, health and wellness festivals, and improved access to a nutritionist

·         Improve community organization around living a healthier lifestyle

o   Support groups, workout buddies, Zumba in the park – free, easily accessible activities

o   Create spaces for the community to organize activities

o   There needs to be a way to create habit change – families complain about how expensive healthy foods are but choose to spend money on beer

o   Programs that provide subsidized gym memberships with fitness classes geared toward working adults

o   Create shared-use agreements between schools and the community

·          Bring more awareness of affordable, cultural farmer’s markets like SWAP meetings

·          Environmental justice

o   Healthy options across the whole Coachella Valley

o   Sometimes the people that are harvesting the crops are not able to access them for their own families

·         Create more female-friendly spaces to reduce fear of harassment

·         Increase dog parks

·         A liquor/grocery store hybrid

Other Ideas:

·         Fostering the arts for the youth – art and cultural events in the East Valley with event production and technology training opportunities for the youth to participate and work

·         Increased public awareness of marijuana dispensary planning processes – how are these decisions made?

o   Ex. There were no warnings for the dispensary on 48th and Van Buren

o   People do not understand the legality of the matter at the state versus federal level

o   Youth openly smoke with no shame

·          Later hours at public libraries and schools for basic services such as printing and internet use

·          Community awareness of issues occurring in “real-time”

o   Build knowledge on information sharing apps – Desert Hot Springs has a Facebook page, Coachella a Connect App, Next Door app.

·         Improved outreach methods in order to have a diverse representation at forums/meetings

o   The needs are different for each neighborhood, we need people to be leaders/representatives

·         More stores locally so people have places to get out of the house

·         Workshops on cultural differences and equitable treatment

·         Air quality – growing issues with the Salton Sea

·         Financial literacy - How to purchase a home

·         Build better relationships with faith-based organizations and bring them into collaborative efforts

·         Access to clean water/clean air resources, Ex. Air-filtration programs

·         More financial assistance for college-aged individuals – book vouchers, bus passes, free health services


Ranking of priorities from Coachella participants [please note not everyone returned the ranking sheet]:

  1. Primary Care/Behavioral Health access
  2. Homelessness
  3. Healthy Eating, Active Living
  4. Other Ideas