South Orange County Equity Collaborative addresses housing issues

Rosa Melo, with her son, is participating in efforts to help neighbors make ends meet in a high-rent community.

The pandemic highlighted critical inequities for some communities of color where Providence Mission Hospital is leading the South Orange County Equity Collaborative, a group of nonprofit leaders and residents assessing needs in a small, impoverished neighborhood in South Orange County. 

Many residents in this neighborhood spend 50% or more of their income on housing – 20% more than what is considered economically feasible.   

The goal is to change systems and structures that create barriers through direct service, advocacy and policy change. 

“When people are spending that much on housing, there’s just not much left. It creates a severe burden,” said Christy Cornwall, director of Providence Community Health Investment in Orange County. 

Resident Rosa Melo is a fierce advocate for her neighborhood and active in the housing initiative. 

“When you see the homes and see what has been broken for years, it's really eye-opening. I learned that my community has a lot more needs than I was aware of,” Melo said.   

Additionally, Providence ministries address equity and racial disparities by focusing on serving the most vulnerable residents in the area.

Providence developed a relationship with the TGR Foundation, a Tiger Woods charity, to support vulnerable youth in an after-school STEM program. This partnership is expanding to provide wellness services for local families, including insurance enrollment and health screenings.