Standing in front of one of the city’s brightly-colored Creative Crosswalks and adjacent to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, city officials and elected leaders celebrated the honor of winning a coveted award for communities that excel in creating healthy places for their residents, workers and visitors. Santa Monica is one of seven cities across the country to win the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health prize in 2016 for its efforts to ensure all residents, workers and visitors have the opportunity to live longer, healthier, happier, and more productive lives.
“This honor reflects our community’s decades-long work to create a city that works for everyone, especially the most vulnerable,” said Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez, in a press statement. “From increasing the minimum wage and our hands on approach to addressing homelessness to using data to measure the wellbeing of our community, building a culture of health is part of the Santa Monica ethos.”
Sometimes in the fields of politics and journalism, it is easy to not see “the forrest for the trees.” Activists can be so caught up in the most recent outrage, that they can forget that Santa Monica is a pretty great place to live. The RWJF award recognizes the city’s data-driven efforts to make it an even better place.
In particular, RWJF recognized the city for:
- Adding 1,720 units of affordable housing since 1982 even in the face of eliminated redevelopment funds.
- Creating opportunities for individuals to increase their economic resilience, including increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2020.
- Addressing homelessness with compassion through a Housing First approach to homelessness and use of data to focus services on most vulnerable.
- Expanding use of data to whatever it takes to address challenges faced by children and families, as well as overall improving overall community wellbeing.
- Increasing equitable funding for high quality public education and facilities.
- Making significant progress to advance a complete mobility network through Expo Line, Big Blue Bus, Breeze Bike Share, pedestrian safety improvements, and Safe Routes to Schools.
- Cultivating an engaged community through neighborhood involvement at the Virginia Avenue Park campus.
“Santa Monica is a shining example of what can be achieved when a community sets ambitious goals to improve the health and wellbeing of all its residents, and works with vision and focus to achieve them. I am so proud to live in a city that is committed to wellness in every aspect of our lives,” said State Senator Ben Allen who represents Santa Monica in Sacramento.
Santa Monica will join a network of Prize-winning communities that will have their inspiring stories shared with other cities across the nation. The other six winning communities for 2016 are: 24:1 Community in the St. Louis area of Missouri; Columbia Gorge Region of Oregon and Washington; Louisville, Kentucky; Manchester, New Hampshire; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe in Washington.
“The RWJF Culture of Health Prize communities show us that in towns and regions across the nation, individuals are coming together to find powerful ways to help people achieve the best health possible. These communities are connecting the dots between health and education, jobs, housing, and community safety,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “We’re privileged to learn from this growing network of communities that offer hope for the wellbeing of the entire nation.”
Learn more about Santa Monica’s work, as well as this year’s other Prize winners through a collection videos, photos, and more at www.rwjf.org/Prize.