The Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Mentorship Project has selected four local health departments and mentor organizations to participate in a joint effort to complete an HIA. The Mentorship Program came about through the combined efforts of the Health Impact Project and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The project was announced in August and will help make HIA a more routine part of local health departments' work. Four agencies new to HIA have been matched with those that have experience in the field, giving them peer-to-peer assistance and technical support. The project will broaden the field of HIA by increasing the geographic diversity of HIA practitioners and help health departments in areas with little experience in HIA to begin using this powerful tool, as well as augmenting the capacity of public health institutions to conduct HIAs. The diversity of topics that will be addressed in these projects exemplifies the potential for HIA to meaningfully impact a wide range of non-health policies:
Complete Streets Project, Missouri
The City of Independence Health Department, along with their mentor from the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, will conduct an HIA on their city’s Complete Streets Plan and help determine which bike lanes to build first, by examining the impacts on issues important to health, such as opportunities for physical activity, access to services, and the risk of accidents and injuries.
The Baltimore City Department of Transportation previously completed an HIA on the Baltimore Red Line.
Transportation for Livable Communities, Ohio
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health will work with their expert mentor in from Ingham County (MI) Health Department to study a planning project for key intersections along a four mile stretch of road that runs through the downtown corridor of Euclid, OH. They plan to examine various ways to promote physical activity through increased biking and walking by looking at the best design options and tradeoffs between exercise, air pollution and injury risk, as well as provide guidance for development in the corridor that puts people in close proximity to goods and services to support health, fosters community, and strengthens the local economy.
The Ingham County Health Department has developed a checklist-based HIA tool and regularly uses it, in collaboration with the planning department and private developers, to evaluate proposed development projects.
South Billings Master Plan, Montana
RiverStone Health, with their mentor from Deschutes County (OR) Health Department, will conduct an HIA of the South Billings Master Plan. Through the process, they plan to identify and recommend neighborhood investment strategies that promote health through optimizing affordable housing, commercial opportunities, and strong neighborhood connections where residents and business intersect.
The Deschutes County Health Department has previously conducted an HIA to examine the health implications of policies contained within a proposed community plan for Tumalo, Oregon.
Highway 2 Redevelopment, Washington
Spokane Regional Health District will work with an expert mentor in transportation from Clark County (WA) Public Health to examine the potential impacts of the redevelopment of a section of Highway 2 that runs through the heart of downtown Spokane.
Clark County Public Health has conducted HIAs including: