Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action (COPA)
COPA stands for COMMUNITIES ORGANIZED FOR RELATIONAL POWER IN ACTION. Peace United is a founding member of this broad-based organization which organizes institutions and develops leaders, alongside 25 other faith and civic institutions. Together, we're addressing the complex issues of housing, health care, immigration, public safety, economic opportunity, and education.
COPA is part of a nationwide network of broad-based organizations, building capacity for social change through relationships, curiosity, and disciplined organizing.
While we are making a significant impact by building housing on our church campus, collectively we have an opportunity to make an even bigger impact right now. Every seven years, the state mandates cities and counties to evaluate and designate lots on which to build a specified number of housing units. This process, approving the Housing Element, is happening now, and jurisdictions are required to engage the public. Since COPA has commitments from city and county officials to address this issue with us, their constituents, COPA has led a number of Civic Academies on Housing. We learned together about this complex issue, heard stories about how the lack of affordable housing is affecting the fabric of our community, and plan strategies to address this deficit.
Health Care Team
COPA is working toward a just healthcare system which guarantees quality services for all, young and old, those with documents and those without. In 2015, COPA organized to create Esperanza Care to provide health care coverage for those without legal documentation in Monterey County. It now serves 4,500 people and inspired the statewide expansion of MediCal to cover all immigrants without documents. In response to Covid-19, COPA organized to secure $5M county funding to launch VIDA, the community health worker program that employed trusted leaders who removed barriers to testing, isolation, paid sick leave, rental assistance and vaccines.
Mental Health Team
In Santa Cruz, we have an opportunity to expand health care access, especially mental health care, during negotiations of the Access to Care agreement with all major health care providers, including Kaiser Permanente. Stories from teens in their struggles with mental health are especially heart-wrenching. While there is an emergency response team mobile clinic, the hours are limited to 8 to 5, Monday through Friday when teens are in school and need it least. No one knows the resource exists and those that have used it report their parents receiving a bill for payment, further discouraging teens to access help if their parents cannot afford it. At COPA’s 10/24/22 County Supervisors Candidate Assembly, we received commitments from all candidates to work with us to address these problems.