Create More Equity in Healthcare

In Georgia, it's a shame that something as simple as your zip code can be a major predictor of a person's health. This is true for our community. As a Bankhead resident my neighbors and I’s life expectancy is 63 ½ years old in comparison to 84 years old just up the street in Buckhead. 

The racial disparities in mortality and health outcomes are clear between these two communities as well as communities throughout Georgia. We must change that and here is how we will do it:  

Medicaid Access for All. The health outcomes of Georgians won’t improve unless we expand Medicaid eligibility to poor and low-income individuals and increase access to quality healthcare. As State Senator, I will support the Expand Medicaid Now Act. This crucial piece of legislation would expand Medicaid for poor and low-income Georgians.


Improving Maternal Mortality. The State of Georgia has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the United States. On par with developing countries, the maternal mortality rate among Black women is deeply disappointing. Maternal deaths are preventable. I am supportive of the recommendations from a bipartisan state house study committee that included extending Medicaid benefits to new mothers to up to a year so they can get access to the life-saving preventative health services. 

The maternal mortality crisis in Georgia demands more resources, including expanding grants to birthing hospitals, funding to attract practicing OB/GYN, increasing the use of med-wives, and supporting comprehensive reproductive health and abortion access.

Ending HIV: Georgia continues to rank at the top of the list for state’s with the highest new rates of HIV infection. With CDC in our backyard, this is unacceptable! As a community organizer and health advocate, I have successfully lobbied the state government and the City of Atlanta to establish more resources for PrEP, the daily pill that prevents HIV, to low-income communities. As a State Senator, I will build on this work by ensuring that the state funds HIV programs, mandates comprehensive sex education in public schools that include the needs of LGBTQ students, and pass legislation that provides more housing options for people living with HIV so that they can be healthy and achieve viral suppression.

End Environmental Racism

Too many of the people that live in our state senate district live in communities where it is a common for cancer-causing gases, toxic chemical waste, and other hazardous pollutants to be released and our community has not had senator leading the battle cry that enough is enough. As your next Senator, I will lead this cry in collaboration with the community.

These facilities causes the damage to our environment are a stone throw away from District 38 – by design. Environmental racism is a systemic flaw in the pervasive environmental policies that put the health of Georgians, mainly black and brown residents, at risk. Residents of District 38 are adversely affected by an increased rate of asthma, lung cancer, and other respiratory illnesses. Its no wonder why there is an inequity in the life expectancy of some of our residents.

End Homelessness and Creating Equitable Housing

I have been evicted from my home. I have experienced what many homeless individuals face: limited services and resources that would enable self-sufficiency and upward social mobility. Moreover, landlords are getting away with evicting tenants while providing poor living conditions and violating housing and code enforcement laws without being penalized. There must be more equity in housing law that level’s the playing field between landlords and tenants. We need stronger tenant protections as a tool to combat gentification and the displacement of our greatest resource - us. As a member of the Fulton County Homelessness Board, appointed by Fulton County Commissioner Natalie Hall, I recognize where we are falling short when it comes to our local housing needs.

Leverage new funding. We will leverage public, private, and philanthropic funding to enable the acquisition and rehabilitation of property with affordable housing for underserved populations, including people living with disabilities, low-income families and individuals looking to transition out of shelter housing. 

Creating Second Chance Rental Programs. Families who have fallen on hard time should not be subjected to being locked out of the housing marketing indefinitiely due to a previous eviction, particularly if their debt has been paid and their landlord violated housing law. I will work to develop policies that will create pathways for those with challenged rental history to re-enter the rental market and to eventually become homeowners.


Open the waiting list. Since 2016, the waiting list for the Housing Choice Voucher program, otherwise known as Section 8, has been closed. This is an essential program that provides rental assistance to low-income families and individuals. As State Senator, I will work to ensure that Georgia's Department of Community Affairs extend this rental assistance program through the State’s Community Development Block Grant, tax levy funding, or budget appropriation. Specifically, I will advocate for the opening of the waiting list for special populations, including youth aging out of foster care, people living with mental illness, the elderly, and LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Some may say this is costly, but the alterative will be spending more on beds in jails and prisons.

Equitable Economic Development

Atlanta is the fourth-fastest gentrifying city in the country. This is no surprise – the City of Atlanta is booming. While we continue to fight the violence of gentrification and its displacement of families due to rising rents, we cannot forget about a sector of our communities that is also
hurting: small businesses.Mom-n-Pops stores are the ingenuity of our communities. Small business owners sustain theeconomy of a neighborhood by employing residents from the communities their business
operates in. If they shut down, the unemployment rate rises, making it harder to put food on thetable.

Prevent business evictions. Residents of District 38 have an aerial view of how our community is rapidly changing because of the closing of small businesses. The State of
Georgia must further its commitment to small businesses. We can start by passing commercial rent-control legislation that regulates rent increases on businesses operating
in rapidly gentrifying areas.

Close the loopholes on rising commercial rent. Right now, property owners can pass property taxes, on their land and buildings, to small business owners, particularly when
the value of a property increases. I support the implementation of anti-displacement policies that will prevent rent increases on long-term small businesses throughout the .
State of Georgia. Additionally, effective anti-displacement policies should require a
property owner to include a clause on commercial renewal leases that outlines the following:

The property value of the land and building, the property taxes paid in the previous year, and, if there’s more than a 2% rent increase, a “good cause” reason that
summarizes the enactment of a more than 2% rent hike.


© 2019  Devin Barrington Ward. Proudly created by TIE Consulting Co.