Healthy Communities

RSG Well Deserved Fun Day

RSG’s commitment to its clients, employees, and local communities is evident daily. The 2016/2017 period has been especially challenging for RSG, given the current difficulties facing California cities and recent changes in legislation, just to name a few. Yet, without skipping a beat, staff continued to hunker down and produce top notch work; meeting deadlines, finding creative solutions for our clients and forging new relationships and service avenues. This dedication did not go unnoticed by the firm’s Partners!   

Recognizing the huge effort by staff to overcome the challenges over the past year, the Partners decided to scrap the already scheduled June All-Company meeting. Instead they treated us to a day of fun on a Duffy Boat out of Newport Harbor, followed by a yummy lunch from The Cannery in Lido Village. Very tre-chic for this group, but that was the best part about it!

Call it a re-boot for the mind, body, and soul, these types of events are relished, cherished, and appreciated! For those of us who joined the work force before the invasion of the “creative work space demanding millennials,” events like this were held only on rare occasions to commemorate extraordinary achievements by companies. However, the owners at RSG are in the trenches every day with us, working alongside us, jumping every obstacle with us. So, it is not a surprise that they felt the need to say thank you in a BIG WAY!

And for this, I personally want to express my gratitude, and let them know that I am thankful every day that I work with such committed and passionate leaders. Leaders who always strive to celebrate and appreciate more than the bottom line. They choose to celebrate and appreciate staff and all their accomplishments-because it is each of these individual accomplishments melded together that make up the RSG Family!  

Written by Business Office Coordinator, Erin Woodmas7.19.17

Homebuilders Giving Back to the Community

Every Wednesday night Granville Homes, located in the Central Valley, provides free meals to the community of Firebaugh. Working in conjunction with the Salvation Army, the company welcomes anyone to come and enjoy a hot meal from 5 to 7 p.m. Typically 200 to 500 (!) people come for delicious meals such as beef stew. This is part of the Granville Foundation’s focus on programs that provide access to food, shelter, healthcare, and education for people in need.  

The Granville Foundation was created to help improve the wellbeing of people in the Central Valley, the United States, and the world. According to the Granville Homes website, “Our passion drives our involvement in programs that provide access to food, shelter, healthcare, and education for people in need.”

Kudos to the company for recognizing the needs of the communities it serves. Companies can make a profit by developing communities while contributing to disadvantaged people. The free community dinners create a sense of place, bring the community together, and help those in need. More businesses should consider giving back in a direct and meaningful way. 

Written by Tara Matthews, a Principal at RSG

How Health Can Contribute to Economic Wealth

For many people, a new year means new commitments and resolutions, such as getting in shape and being healthy. While eating better and losing weight may be great for your waistline, having a healthy lifestyle can also benefit your community!

Exercise makes your body release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that makes you feel at ease and happy. Endorphins, chemicals that fight stress, are released in your brain during exercise, minimizing discomfort, blocking the feeling of pain, and creating a feeling of euphoria.

A focus on individual health also provides benefits for the local community and workforce. Working out clears cortisol, the stress hormone, out of the body. Walking improves both convergent and divergent thinking, enhancing creativity. Exercise can help us to focus more through building stamina and productivity. Workplace health programs that combine individual and organizational strategies can produce benefits for individual employees, their families, and the organization as a whole by reducing sick days and enabling employees to be more productive.

Though not a typical part of economic development strategies, improving individuals’ health can provide local economic benefits. With a strategic approach and comprehensive vision, RSG helps clients develop solutions for their economic and fiscal health.

Written by Evanne Holloway, a Research Assistant at RSG

A Bold Welcome to Boldo Bol!

 

There are a lot of reasons why RSG is a great place to work. The camaraderie in the office, the stimulating environment in which you always learn something new, the opportunity to help develop our communities into better places. Without a doubt though, one of the highlights of coming to work is…lunchtime!

We are so fortunate to have a variety of incredible restaurants within walking distance of our downtown Santa Ana building. It takes an average of about four phone calls before you can get through to Crave, the unbelievably popular restaurant across the street, to place your pick-up order for their famed kale salad. Around the corner, Izalco Restaurant serves authentic Salvadorian food, including delicious pupusas, in a beautiful space that’s reminiscent of a beautiful Latin American home. This week, I had the best burger I’ve had in a long while at Chapter One, a gastropub about a two-minute walk from us. I could go on and on, but instead, I want to turn your attention to Boldo Bol.

Boldo Bol is a new earth-to-table restaurant that opened this past summer about three blocks down the street from our office, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. The décor is simplistically charming, with photos of fresh produce on the wall in white frames and a wooden swinging café door in the shape of an oversized turnip. Their menu primarily consists of what they call “Bols”, which are combinations of fresh vegetables, meat, rice, and sauce served in an eco-friendly bowl. I’m not one who is ordinarily enthusiastic about a meal so heavily dependent on vegetables, but everything is so fresh that it’s just exceptionally tasty. In my opinion, the wholesomeness of the food is an awesome bonus.

It’s refreshing to see the beginnings of another restaurant with a laser focus on health, flavor, sustainability and community involvement. I wish Boldo Bol the greatest success and hope that more and more restaurants like this continue to pop up throughout the country in a diversity of neighborhoods.

For now, welcome to our neighborhood, Boldo Bol!

Written by Dominique Clark who is an Analyst at RSG

 

Why “Housing as Healthcare” Saves Dollars and Makes Sense

 

Is there some way to turn the vicious cycle of homelessness and mental and physical illness on its head?  Having a home keeps people healthier, which leads to taxpayer savings, which can, in turn, be used to finance affordable housing. 

At the San Diego Housing Federation’s 23rd Annual Affordable Housing and Community Development Conference in October, Joshua Bamberger, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Housing and Urban Health for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, made those points in a presentation called “Housing as Healthcare.”  Dr. Bamberger, who is an associate professor of family and community medicine at UCSF and who served as special adviser to the executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness in 2012 and 2013, explained that studies show that people who live in permanent housing have lower health care costs and are typically insured.  “It costs less to house homeless people than to leave them on the streets and in shelters,” according to Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development on “The Daily Show,” on March 5, 2012.

Sadly, the reverse is true as well.  Poverty, combined with mental illness, substance abuse or a chronic medical condition, is lethal, Dr. Bamberger said.  He added that people in these conditions die 25 years younger than general public.  These premature deaths, often from common diseases like cardiovascular disease or diabetes, are preventable he said.  Medical treatment is necessary but insufficient alone to improve outcomes.  Rather, medical success comes from housing homeless people.  In fact, housing homeless people with AIDS increased their survival rates by about 80 percent.

Quality is impacted by five key indicators, Dr. Bamberger said.  They are: quality of building/architecture; quality of neighborhood; severity of illness among tenants; homogeneityof the population; and quality of the on-site services.

In pilot projects, the return on the investment has been enormous.  Savings from putting taxpayer dollars toward healthcare costs of homeless people can be used toward building affordable housing.  In New York State, savings in healthcare are being invested into supportive housing to the tune of $600 million in 2015-2016.

Dr. Bamberger stressed the need to focus on linking the healthcare industry to community development.  The affordable housing sector must reach out to the providers of healthcare services, diversify the capital cost, diversify the operating costs and replicate to scale, he said.

Thus, according to Dr. Bamberger, the solution for those who have been on the streets for years and are living with mental or physical illness and substance abuse is high-quality, low-threshold, beautiful housing with on-site or mobile services that are tailored to individual needs.  With a system in place that assesses each homeless person's need for housing through a medical lens, cities can help ensure that people get the medical care they need while containing medical costs.  Providing housing will reduce health care expenditures.  Providing housing for the highest users of the health care system improves their quality of life and reduces the number of people on the street while reducing public health care spending and the overall size of government.

Tara Matthews of Rosenow Spevacek Group Inc. was the moderator of a panel at the supportive housing session at the San Diego Housing Federation 23rd Annual Affordable Housing Conference