The Men and Families Center, Inc., will train, support, and stipend 30 neighborhood residents to work within and through community organizations and organizing efforts on their blocks as “neighborhood navigators”. Focusing on a small, defined geographic area in which they live (i.e., the 2-3 blocks around their home), navigators will assist neighbors in taking initial steps toward resolving unmet health or social service needs and will provide social support and encouragement in sustaining connections to care. They will be well-positioned to follow-up regularly and repeatedly with neighbors on whether or not these connections are successful.
A critical distinction of this program as compared with many community health worker initiatives in urban communities in the United States is that the overall focus of the neighborhood navigator is not a panel of individual patients, but the neighborhood itself. Navigators’ efforts in this pilot will define a novel role as a crucial point of intersection between their networks of supportive social relations in the neighborhood and patient-centered, clinic-based case management efforts on the other. For J-CHiP patients with acute case management needs, navigators will help to extend the efforts of clinic-based outreach staff by serving as a neighborhood safety net, available to initiate help if patients fall out of contact with outreach workers.
As in-place neighborhood resources, navigators will also build capacity for resident-led organizing around health and for connecting neighbors to needed health care and social service resources as they disseminate experiential knowledge throughout their neighborhood. By linking with neighborhood associations and other organizing efforts, they will help to mobilize neighbors to advocate around social and economic determinants.