Addressing Environmental Injustice

Our Community of Practice on Homelessness brings together 200+ community, institutional and corporate leaders to build alliances and discover new tools to end homelessness and address racial health disparities.

Topic 7 

Addressing Environmental Injustice: Race and the Built Environment

A conversation with:

  • Dr. Mary Anne Akers – Dean and Professor, School of Architecture + Planning, Morgan State University
  • Catalina Rodriguez-Lima – Director, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Kevin Lindamood – President & CEO, Health Care for the Homeless
  • Dr. Sacoby Wilson – Associate Professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health; Director, Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) - UMD College Park School of Public Health


Together we explored:

  • How do you define environmental racism, and why is it so difficult to confront and address?
  • In Baltimore’s built environment, environmental injustice persists where hyper-segregated neighborhoods are exposed to hazardous air pollutants and environmental hazards due to immediate proximity to incinerators and industrialized areas, traffic emissions from highways, as well as abandoned housing. How and where do we start to address such entrenched issues, and whose responsibility is it to address these issues?
  • What is the state of homelessness for immigrant families in the Baltimore area as they navigate the realities of environmental injustice and housing insecurity?
  • Why should we all prioritize addressing environmental racism, and what is at stake if we continue to deprioritize such an issue?
  • In what way is the liberation of the non-White Global South from the manacles of environmental racism bound with the liberation of communities of color experiencing the effects of environmental injustice across Baltimore?
  • Where do we begin the work of dismantling the environmental racism that plagues Baltimore’s built environment and most distressed communities?

From our panelists:

"You can’t talk about environmental injustice without talking about environmental racism. It actually should be called environmental slavery. Race is the biggest predictor of where environmental hazards appear. You’re not going to address these issues looking at income. Race is at the center.” - Dr. Sacoby Wilson

"Let’s be honest, many of our green advocates do not represent the voices of people who feel the racism and are victims of these inequalities. When you talk about centering marginalized communities, you need to step back and let them talk about their experiences." - Dr. Mary Anne Akers

"If I ask 'What drove you to be here?' immigrants say, 'I needed a job to feed my family,' not climate change. But if you dig a little deeper…farm had been experiencing drought and stopped producing. We are causing migration and blaming migrants for the situation in the US." - Catalina Rodriguez-Lima

Learn more about our panelists:

dr. mary anne akers - Dean and Professor, School of Architecture + Planning, Morgan State University

Mary Anne Akers is the Founding Dean for the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. As an academic administrator, she has led interdisciplinary teams of faculty, staff, and students who are strong advocates for diversity, inclusion, andeducational equity. Together, they have accomplished outcomes because of their awareness and sensitivity to cultural and ethnic pluralism, as well as individual differences. Under her leadership, the School of Architecture and Planning has engaged with communities and conducted research on urban issues.

catalina rodriguez-lima - Director, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

As the Director of MIMA, Catalina is responsible for promoting community well-being, economic development and the inclusion of immigrant and refugee communities in the City of Baltimore. Her office oversees the city’s compliance with federal regulations related to serving the Limited English Proficient (LEP) constituency. In addition, MIMA staffs Boards and Coalitions such as the Baltimore City Hispanic Commission, The Baltimore City Hispanic Advisory Council for Public Safety, and the New Americans Task Force –these last two created under Catalina’s leadership-to craft programs and policies to target the city’s estimated 50,000 foreign born. She is a member of the Community University Collaborative Council of Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Providers by the Maryland Office of Refugees and Asylees, Johns Hopkins Centro Sol, Legal Aid Language Access Task Force, The Open Society Leadership Institute and The Baltimore City Hispanic Advisory Council for Public Safety. Catalina received a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies with a concentration in Latin America Studies and Spanish Literature from Towson University. A native of Ecuador, Catalina moved to the United States in 2000.

dr. sacoby wilson -  Associate Professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health; Director, Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) - UMD College Park School of Public Health

Dr. Sacoby Wilson directs the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH). He has over 20 years of experience as an environmental health scientist in the areas of exposure science, environmental justice, environmental health disparities, community-based participatory research, water quality analysis, air pollution studies, built environment, industrial animal production, climate change, community resiliency, and sustainability. He works primarily in partnership with community-based organizations to study and address environmental justice and health issues and translate research to action. Dr. Wilson, a two-time EPA STAR fellow, EPA MAI fellow, Udall Scholar, NASA Space Scholar, and Thurgood Marshall Scholar, received his BS degree in Biology/Ecotoxicology with a minor in Environmental Science from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1998. He received training in environmental health in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Wilson received his MS degree in 2000 from UNC-Chapel Hill and his PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005.

moderator: Kevin lindamood, MSW - President & CEO, Health care for the homeless

Kevin Lindamood has worked for over 20 years at the intersection of homelessness and health. He has been an outreach worker, clinician, community organizer, advocate—and since 2011, the CEO of Maryland’s leading provider of integrated health services for people experiencing homelessness. Lindamood serves on Maryland’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, as the Governance Committee Chair for The Journey Home: Baltimore’s Continuum of Care and as the Policy Committee Co-Chair for Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore. He holds an MSW from the University of Michigan, a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University and is a graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Program.   

Join us for a community workshop about implementing our upcoming strategic plan.

Thursday, July 7 at 1:30 p.m. 


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Phone: 410-837-5533


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