Employees of the Department of Health in Columbia presented the final report of the responses to the survey of the citizens of the city of the American Rescue Plan Act at a meeting before Monday evening.
The presentation — given by Kari Utterback, director of the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department, and panel member Jordan Bales — broke the most important disclosure requirements and what happened. The most important priorities, according to the winning votes they received, were health and emotional care, affordable housing, workers’ compensation, services for the homeless, and family support (including food, utilities and rent).
Bales noted that the results were representative of the white population in Columbia and Boone County. The study obtained a sample size for the general population and sent surveys in other languages to reach non-English speakers. However, the 3,882 respondents who identified as white outnumbered the 3,602. Another population outnumbers them, but it is a minority.
According to the show, what is needed for people who are not clean and cheap is slightly different from the overall result. For black and white respondents with low incomes, the top three priorities were family support (including food, utilities and rent), affordable housing, and services for the homeless.
BIPOC and low-income households also ranked food insecurity in the top five, a problem that was not found in the overall results.
Included in the federal government’s ARPA directive is a vision to address “the social and economic challenges that have created the epidemic’s inequities.”
The next step will be for the Department of Health to create monitoring groups to increase the number of studies with better data, said Utterback and Bales. The proposed targets establish these stakeholder groups from August to September. The department is planning to issue another report incorporating these findings on September 30.
The Department of Health plans to bring together groups of black/African Americans, Hispanics, immigrants, people with disabilities, low-income families, health and mental health stakeholders, health and mental health professionals. , people burdened with housing costs, local businesses affected by local nonprofits.
Bales and Utterback said the Department of Health will want to include low-income families in its focus, since most annual incomes fall between $100,000 and $149,000.
First Ward City Council Representative Pat Fowler said groups should emphasize listening to those who are burdened with housing costs, because “These people will have information that the rest of us may not know,” he said.
Fowler wanted to add focus groups and people who prioritize workers’ compensation, including front-line workers, city workers and essential workers. This is because the first place for those who do not live in Columbia but work in the city is a premium salary.
Mayor Barbara Buffaloe wanted to increase the number of families with older children, as many parents were forced to leave their jobs during the pandemic.
Bales and Utterback said the money could be paid by July 2023.
Bales noted that the community’s responses to the survey question led the department to change the question asking respondents’ sex at birth to identify whether they were male or female. Bales said the city will use the recommendations in the future to make surveys more inclusive and consistent.