One Health Institute receives grant to study community stress, housing instability

Janina Farinas and Deirdre Sullivan
Janina E. Fariñas, One Health Faculty Fellow; and Deirdre Sullivan, executive director of The Family Center/La Familia

One Health Institute at Colorado State University and community partners have received a $750,000 grant to study toxic community stress and housing instability in families with young children.

The grant was awarded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment to One Health, along with The Family Center/La Familia and the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County.

Social determinants of health can include racism; lack of access to a healthy environment; multi-generational trauma; and housing insecurity.

“One Health Institute is proud to have this grant to help address two key, non-medical determinants of health, including housing and social supports,” said Bruno Sobral, director of the One Health Institute.

Collective effort

Community input was collected for this project through the La Cocina and Family Development programs of the Family Center in Fort Collins to understand community members’ needs.

One major finding from this community input revealed housing price escalation and the need to improve and preserve mobile home parks to create additional affordable housing in Fort Collins and Larimer County. The recently awarded funding will address municipal macro-level policy and systems changes and focus on early interventions for adverse childhood experiences, particularly related to housing instability.

“We are excited about this partnership that will continue the great work started by the Vida Sana health equity coalition here in Larimer county and, as a family resource center, work on the full spectrum of programming through policy change to improve the lives of families in our community,” said Deirdre Sullivan, executive director of The Family Center/La Familia.

Two-generation approach

Over the next three years, this project will focus on changing zoning regulations and policies at the city and county level to allow for designated areas of mobile home parks. The project will also increase conversion of ownership of mobile home parks to become resident-owned and transform systems to create culturally responsive neighborhood and community based mental health services; and work to increase community resilience in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

One Health Institute will build on a two-generation approach, in light of current research connecting health-related factors. These factors can include trauma in early childhood and chronic illness. This approach will promote trauma-informed care and supportive services to families with young children.

“This partnership embodies our One Health principles in action,” said Janina E. Fariñas, project researcher and One Health Faculty Fellow. “We are proud to be working across disciplinary and agency boundaries in the development of a resident-led community participatory model that will serve to increase community resilience, decrease early childhood toxic stress, and build a policy and advocacy platform for greater housing security for Larimer County’s mobile home park residents.”