Health Disparities

The MWPHA Health Disparities Committee

The multi-racial Health Disparities Committee addresses racist health inequalities, especially HIV. We focus on the social and economic factors that fuel these inequalities, such as housing, jobs, stigma, and opportunities for people leaving prison. We include public health students, practitioners, and community residents of all ages and backgrounds.

Health Disparities Committee members displaying the new Re-Entry Resource Bulletin Board at Stoddert Terrace-Fort Dupont.

The Metro Washington Public Health Association, Jobs with Justice, and many others have been pushing Metro to hire and retain workers who have served their time in jail or prison. Jobs with good incomes and health benefits help people stay healthy.

Last week, Metro fired Mr. Lescount Jackson, a bus operator who returned to work after a year of cancer treatments. His shop steward immediately filed a grievance. Union and MWPHA members circulated a letter demanding his immediate reinstatement and organized a rally at the Metro Board meeting.

On March 26, Metro rehired Mr. Jackson!

Mr. Jackson’s friend reported:

“how grateful he is to have u guys jump to his corner and did not even know him. Shows that u guys just don’t talk the talk. You guys make it happen.”

Thank you to everyone who signed the letter and planned to rally. Our Health Disparities Committee and friends will continue to push Metro to change its hiring policy. There are many others denied employment there. One woman was convicted for riding in a stolen car, lost her Metro job, her house, and moved out of the area, leaving her son.

While Metro applies these policies to all workers, they disproportionately affect African American workers, having a racist impact, African American residents are more likely to be under neighborhood police surveillance and arrested for drug possession than white workers. These barriers contribute to the extremely high unemployment rates among African Americans, now 50% among young people, the same as in Greece and Spain. We all need good jobs with real living wages!

Now Metro wants to raise fares and privatize bus routes, hiring workers at lower wages. It blames workers for fare hikes while businesses like the Verizon Center and Nationals Park make millions from people using public transportation. Let those businessmen pay! Join Our Campaign!

“Ban Racist Background Checks at Metro – Jobs Not Jails!”

Over 7,000 people return to DC neighborhoods from prison and jail each year. For these returnees, there is urgent need for jobs and a living wage. Metro recently reversed its policy on hiring people returning from prison. The Metro Washington Public Health Association demands that Metro hire returnees.

Call Customer Assistance line 202.637.1328 to make a comment.

Sign the petition.

Youth Engagement

We support young residents at Stoddert Terrace-Fort DuPont organizing to stop violence and improve their community.

Stigma Workshops

Over the last year, the Committee sponsored workshops addressing the stigma of HIV, mental illness, and incarceration, using theatre to engage our participants and identify action strategies. These workshops led to our focus on incarceration and returnees, and the campaign for jobs at Metro.

Community Health Advocate Program

With support from the National Library of Medicine, MWPHA includes community health advocates to conduct outreach, plan events, and teach their peers how to find and use online HIV and other health information.

Events and Activities

Community Outreach – Every third Saturday of the month. Meet at 11:30am at the Dorothy Heights – Benning Road NE Library. We distribute condoms and HIV information in the neighborhood. Email to confirm the date.

Committee meetings held every 3rd Thursday, usually at the Stoddert Terrace – Fort Dupont Community Center at 155 Ridge Rd. SE DC.

Contact to confirm date and place.

Join our listserv

To join, send a message to:

Type: subscribe mwphadisp and provide your name

For more information, contact Karyn Pomerantz at 202-994-3623 or