Homelessness: A public health crisis

Listen now to our show from  11/27/17, on KPFA.org 94.1FM


Being unhoused makes it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to access general health services. Poor health, addiction, mental illness, and violence are some things that lead to homelessness, and homelessness can make all of these things worse.

The majority of adults that experience homelessness have more than one health issue. They range from hypertension and diabetes to HIV and viral hepatitis, but the most significant reasons people go to emergency-rooms are mental illness and addiction. The sick and vulnerable become homeless, and the homeless become sicker and more vulnerable.


Alejandro Soto-Vigil comes from a family of activists in the Bay Area. Last year he was re-elected to his second term on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. After 8 years working in the City of Berkeley as a legislative aide, Alejandro now serves as the program manager for the Berkeley Drop-In Center, an organization that has served Berkeley’s homeless residents for over 25 years. Alejandro majored in political sciences at UC Berkeley. 


Jeffrey Seal is the medical director and interim director of Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless, as well as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry. He has worked at the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health. He completed his medical degree at Boston University, a psychiatry residency at UCSF, and a chief residency at San Francisco General Hospital. He grew up on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, and currently lives in Oakland CA. He is a current California Health Care Foundation Leadership fellow and has special interests in public health systems, social determinants of health, re-entry populations, and trauma.


Roots of Health Disparities

If you missed the January 16th show on KPFA  about The Roots of Health Disparities you can hear it now at https://kpfa.org/player/?audio=251021


images“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice

in health care is the most shocking and


—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Decades of racially discriminatory policies have marginalized people of color in every way, including in areas of housing, transportation, education, employment, and health. In spite of civil rights laws passed 50 years ago—people of color still face barriers on nearly every quality-of-life measure.”

—”Health Equity As a Critical Civil Rights Issue,” PolicyLink, 2015


Dr. Muntu Davis is the Public Health Department Director and County Health Officer in Alameda County, California. He advises the County Board of Supervisors, local government agencies, and community members and organizations on medical and public health issues and on the development and implementation of public health policy and practices. He also provides oversight, strategic direction, and fiscal management of the department and all of its divisions. He joined the ACPHD in October 2005. Prior to working Alameda County, he worked in the Immunization Branch of the California Department of Health Services on pandemic planning and education on febrile rash evaluation. He also practiced medicine in urban and rural primary care and urgent care clinics in Northern and Southern California. He held multiple positions at the Continuity of Instruction to Reinforce Our Children’s Learning Environment (C.I.R.C.L.E.) program at the Tom Bradley Elementary School including co-director and member of the board of directors. Dr. Davis completed a residency in Family Medicine at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier, California. He completed The California Endowment Scholars in Health Policy Fellowship and received his Master of Public Health degree from Harvard School of Public Health.

Dalila Butler, Associate Director, works with the PolicyLink Center for Health Equity and Place to promote social, economic and health equity through environmental and policy change, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color. Dalila serves as the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity Advisory Committee Chair. She also provides technical assistance to communities across the country and supports research and writing for health team projects. She supports the Boys and Men of Color team by working with networks in advancing policy and practice to advance equity in the areas of health, education, employment, and juvenile justice. Prior to joining PolicyLink, Dalila supported health equity projects at Prevention Institute. She holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Masters in Public Health from San Diego State University.

Type II Diabetes: Health Obstacles, and Tools for Healing

Tune in now if you missed the show on KPFA



Over 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. In adults 20 and older, more than one in every 10 people suffers from diabetes, and in seniors that figure rises to more than one in four. Type 2 diabetes represents 90-95 percent of all diabetes cases.

People can reduce the complications of diabetes by getting support, good medical care, and learning how to make some lifestyle changes.


Harry McIlroy, MD is an integrative 40-kpfa-picturephysician certified with the Institute for Functional Medicine. Before medical school and completion of residency at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, Harry had a background in nutrition and obtained a Master’s in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. He strives to provide patients with health tools that empower them to improve their well being.


Michael Beda9781505445886_p0_v1_s192x300r, MA, is Co-Director of the East Bay Healing Collective, and author of,  Sweet Healing, A Whole Health Journey.  He also helped found the project that became the documentary film”Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days.” As a storyteller, speaker, spiritual counselor, and author, his work has inspired people to be honest about their experience of being blocked in their health, and move into wellness practices.
You can find out more at www.readsweethealing.com.


Health, Healing, and Honoring Fathers

Men’s Health Month helps to raise awareness, and encourage men to make healthy lifestyle choices, go for check-ups, get educated about things like diabetes and heart disease, and be attuned to emotional and mental health issues as well.  

Listen to the show I hosted on KPFA (June 13, 2016)

In Honor of Father’s Day and Men’s Health Month


My Guests were:

imgres1Dr. Will Courtenay, is an internationally recognized expert in men’s health and in helping men, boys, and fathers. The American Psychological Association calls him, “a leading psychologist in the field of masculinity.” He  provides psychotherapy and counseling to individuals in the S.F. Bay Area, and phone consultation to those outside of the area. You can reach him at 415-346-6719 or check out his website at http://www.themensdoc.com. He is also the author of Dying To Be Menhttp://www.amazon.com/Dying-Men-Environmental-Biobehavioral-Psychotherapy/dp/0415878764

7380de3cbf3ec5dd8056df56a47e2c4fRev. Dr. Niinana Kweku C.A.M.F, author of, In Search Of Manhood: Reclaiming Manhood, Brain Freeze, and Whiteout. All of his books deal with the plight of people of color and other marginalized groups in America. He has worked in the behavioral health field for 45 years, and is presently the Executive Director of Family Solutions inc., a non profit organization committed to serving and reeducating communities of America and globally.

Health Effects Of Imprisonment.

LISTEN NOW to my guests, Darris Young and Taina Vargas-Edmond, on “About Health” KPFA.org, 94.1 FM



We discussed mass incarceration and how it poses a serious public health challenge. We addressed the health impact on prisoners and their families, and discussed mental health in the jail setting. 

Taina Vargas-Edmond


As State Advocate, Taina works to advance the goals of the Truth and Reinvestment Campaign, building the capacity of communities throughout the state of California to prevent and respond to state violence and mass criminalization through community organizing and coordinated rapid response.

Prior to joining the Ella Baker Center, Taina co-founded the Coalition for Jail Reform in Monterey County and worked for the California State Assembly, where she helped draft legislation aimed at helping state prisoners earn time off of their sentences while reducing their chances of returning to prison. Additionally, she has volunteered with several human rights advocacy groups, such as the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, Dignity and Power Now, and the Monterey Peace and Justice Center.

Darris Young
Local Organizer

In his role as Local Organizer, Darris leads Ella Baker Center’s effort to build a coalition of families negatively impacted by the criminal justice system in the Bay Area. Darris brings to his current work past success as a certified addictions, domestic violence, and violence prevention counselor, and victim advocate with local organizations, including City Team International and Allen Temple Baptist Church. In addition, his experience as both a formerly incarcerated person and a police academy graduate give him a deep understanding of how the current justice system operates and where change is needed.

In January of 2008, while at Solano State Prison in Vacaville, Darris co-organized a prison-wide work stoppage in response to the loss of recreation privileges for inmates. Although it is prohibited for an inmate to organize or participate in a work stoppage, Darris and his co-organizers shut down the prison for more than five days and got the word out to other prisons, resulting in solidarity actions. Ultimately, the work stoppage prompted the warden at Solano and several in his top command to negotiate with inmates, and lessened the severity of the recreation privilege reduction.

His life has been shaped toward service and activism, first as a police officer and later as a counselor and advocate. Working with Black and Latino youth caught up in the criminal justice system is a particular passion for Darris, and he believes there is a role for every community member to play in creating a just, healthy, and prosperous future for all.