Community Health & Vitality

The Wake County Board of Commissioners identified six goals in the Community Health and Vitality key focus area. Select a goal from the list below to learn more about the rationale, objectives, links to comprehensive plans or resources, community indicators and performance measures, and key strategic actions.

CHV 1: Improve residents' health and well-being by promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyles.

Rationale

Everyone deserves to thrive, and Wake County is committed to ensuring that all residents have opportunities to live long, healthy, productive lives. By focusing on the social determinants of health, the County will create environments that make healthy choices outcomes possible for all. This includes access to affordable, high-quality preventative care, nutritious food, and wellness programs and promoting active lifestyles through the availability of greenways, open space, and walkable neighborhoods. Wake County's initiatives like Live Well Wake, Behavioral Health Plan, and PLANWake have already set these ideas into motion.

Objectives:

  • Improve individual well-being
  • Increase the length of life
  • Promote active lifestyles in alignment with PLANWake and other Growth and Sustainability strategies
  • Increase access to affordable preventative care
  • Improve access to healthy foods
  • Decrease alcohol and drug substance abuse
  • Decrease tobacco and vaping use

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Average life expectancy
  • Number of patients evaluated by EMS who show signs of suspected mental health and substance use disorders
  • Number of alcohol-impaired driving deaths
  • Number of drug overdose deaths and hospitalizations
  • Number of opioid pills dispensed (rate per 10,000 population)

Key Strategic Actions:

  • CHV 1.1: Implement and evaluate the action plan outlined in the Infant Mortality 2020 Workgroup Report, to enhance the health outcomes for babies and moms, reduce infant deaths, and reduce related disparities.
  • CHV 1.2: Enhance the accessibility and diversification of substance abuse treatment options.
  • CHV 1.3: Convene a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention Task Force to review County services and coordinate outreach efforts.

CHV 2: Improve access to affordable, high-quality care for all residents experiencing medical and/or behavioral health challenges.

Rationale

By ensuring access to a robust network of resources, Wake County can help improve its residents' quality of life. Expanding access to medical and behavioral health treatment is critical—and residents need affordable, diverse healthcare services and providers close to where they live and work. Enlisting our community partners' help and utilizing existing regional centers will increase efficiency, allowing the County to provide more treatment services. Residents with medical or behavioral needs should have more options for health and mental crises outside of the emergency room. Wake County can help fill those gaps.

Objectives:

  • Increase access to behavioral health services and facilities
  • Increase access to medical health care services and facilities
  • Eliminate disparities in the quality of medical and behavioral health care
  • Improve clinical efficiencies
  • Increase the coordination and sharing of relevant data among care providers

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Percentage of the population uninsured
  • Percentage of Medicaid applications processed on time
  • The ratio of healthcare providers to the population
  • Number of people using Wake County health clinic services
  • Number of visits to the Wake County health clinic
  • Amount of time WakeBrook is on diversion
  • Rates of emergency room/department visits for mental health conditions
  • Number of avoidable bed days (behavioral health)
  • Percentage of individuals returning for treatment for 30 days (behavioral health)
  • Number of Wake County Sheriff's Office officers who received Crisis Intervention Training

Key Strategic Actions:

  • CHV 2.1: Participate in state-led Medicaid Transformation through partnerships with the community and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
  • CHV 2.2: Evaluate performance and current metrics of crisis services to identify additional needs or service gaps.
  • CHV 2.3: Leverage governmental and non-governmental medical, health, and human services agencies and organizations to enhance behavioral health services data sharing.
  • CHV 2.4: Implement programs that support suicide prevention efforts, especially among military families and veterans.
  • CHV 2.5: Review the service offerings at Wake County Regional Centers to identify baseline services, gaps, and potential enhancements to serve the surrounding community better.

CHV 3: Support a higher quality of life for vulnerable residents and communities.

Rationale

Wake County's commitment to equity requires a commitment to vulnerable residents and communities. The County seeks to foster upward mobility such that all people have the tools and resources they need to succeed and live happy and fulfilling lives. For vulnerable residents, the County recognizes that additional community and partnership support may be necessary to help residents make positive changes and reach their desired self-sufficiency level. Assisting residents to become productive and prosperous is both the right thing to do and ensure that all residents can contribute to the community.

Objectives:

  • Foster upward mobility
  • Encourage the creation of livable wage jobs with affordable benefits
  • Implement policies that positively impact vulnerable communities
  • Implement policies that positively impact the most vulnerable residents, with an emphasis on:
    • Adverse childhood experiences
    • Foster children and families
    • Justice-involved resident
    • Residents with disabilities
    • Seniors
    • Veterans and military families
  • Recognize the significant contributions of veterans and military families
  • Build and strengthen community partnerships
  • Provide proximate, place-based civic engagement and resource access
  • Support capacity-building opportunities
  • Foster and support career enhancement and job creation
  • Increase access to workforce development, education, training, and entrepreneurship development

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • County's living wage
  • Poverty rate

Key Strategic Actions:

  • CHV 3.1: Support a higher quality of life for residents in vulnerable communities through policy changes, partnerships, workforce development, and the community college.
    • Workplan will connect WakeWorks (key strategic action E 3.1) and vulnerable communities (key strategic action CHV 3.1) to avoid potential disparities during the apprenticeship program's implementation.
  • CHV 3.2: Explore services and programs offered to our seniors and residents with disabilities. Explore options to strengthen and expand offerings.

CHV 4: All residents should have access to safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate and affordable food.

Rationale

Access to healthy food is a basic human need and right. Food security means that all residents have the food they need, ensuring that everyone is fed with nutritious diets and that no one's next meal is in doubt. In addition, food provided should be in line with people's cultural and religious beliefs. Wake County is committed to ensuring food access for all through a whole systems approach to food security. The County is fortunate in this mission to have amazing community partners. The County will continue to coordinate with regional and statewide leaders and community partners to develop a vibrant food systems network to ensure accessible and affordable food options.

Objectives:

  • Ensure reliable food access – including for young children and seniors
  • Improve food access for those in USDA-classified deserts with limited transportation or grocery store access
  • Increase cooperation and coordination with regional and statewide partners
  • Continue to partner with the community groups and highlight their work
  • Support food systems, including the expansion of locally grown foods and access to markets

Comprehensive Plans:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Meal gap
  • Pounds of local foods secured by public institutions and food banks
  • Community participation
  • County-based food supply
  • Partnerships and organizational connections
  • Farmers market SNAP redemptions

Key Strategic Actions:

  • CHV 4.1: Complete the update to implement the comprehensive Wake County Food Security Plan and measure the impacts of county-resourced efforts.
  • CHV 4.2: Support and encourage local food systems that include the production, distribution, acquisition, consumption, and disposal of locally grown foods.

CHV 5: Create and preserve affordable housing.

Rationale

Stable, affordable housing is critically important to the quality of life of Wake County residents. Housing environments play a crucial role in the social determinants of health, while housing costs dictate the amount of family income available for food, education, or other investments. Rising housing costs increase the risk of housing instability, eviction, and homelessness among some of the County's residents. Wake County's housing programs will minimize the number of residents experiencing homelessness and unstable or transient housing using the 'Housing First' model. The County will also increase the number of affordable housing units and protect existing affordable housing stock.

Objectives:

  • Preserve existing affordable housing units
  • Increase the number of legally binding affordable housing units
  • Leverage land for affordable housing development opportunities
  • Continue rental assistance and eviction prevention programs

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Median monthly housing costs, owner-occupied housing units with a mortgage.
  • People spending more than 30% of their income on rental housing.

Key Strategic Actions:

  • CHV 5.1: Implement the Wake County Affordable Housing Plan to increase and preserve the County's legally binding affordable housing inventory.
  • CHV 5.2: Expand stable, permanent supportive housing opportunities
  • CHV 5.3: Convene municipal elected officials to identify strategies for increasing countywide affordable housing supply.
  • CHV 5.4: Develop and communicate pathways to homeownership for low-income and special needs populations.

CHV 6: Prevent homelessness and provide support to County residents experiencing homelessness.

Rationale

Homelessness is a deep-rooted issue for which the complexities have no single solution. Populations living with mental illness, addiction, and chronic health diseases are particularly susceptible to experiencing homelessness. Further, housing instability may create significant health challenges, which were once minor health issues. Some residents experiencing homelessness are among our "Familiar Faces," or residents who have high utilization of County and community services resulting in an expensive cycle that rarely leads to successful outcomes and increases suffering. Because of these complexities, the Board chose to highlight specific, intentional programs supporting populations experiencing and at-risk of homelessness. The County fully supports the lead agency on homelessness in Wake County, the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End Homeless, to lead the community in efforts to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring as designated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In our capacity, the County will create and support programming that addresses homelessness while aligning efforts to further create and preserve Affordable Housing.

Objectives:

  • Offer a range of sheltering options for those experiencing homelessness, including shelter that does not require enrollment in programs.
  • Offer street outreach services to engage vulnerable unhoused persons who are not yet ready for shelter.
  • Increase temporary sheltering capacity during emergency, life-threatening weather events.
  • Leverage and support community services targeted to populations experiencing homelessness.
  • Reduce housing instability through prevention services.
  • Increase wrap-around services for residents in need of additional support.

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Point-in-time (PIT) count of those experiencing homelessness
  • Point-in-time (PIT) count of veterans experiencing homelessness
  • Temporary emergency sheltering beds

Key Strategic Actions:

  • CHV 6.1: Support the HUD Continuum of Care to explore best practices for populations experiencing homelessness, such as evaluating the feasibility of drop-in sheltering services.
  • CHV 6.2: Support the HUD Continuum of Care to evaluate the demand for temporary, emergency overnight shelter beds during inclement and life-threatening weather, referred to as 'White Flag' nights.