Health Affairs Article: Connecting Community Development and Public Health

Connecting Community Development and Public Health

In the November issue of the journal Health Affairs, current and former staff of the Health Impact Project outlines how connecting the work of community developers and public health professionals through health impact assessments (HIAs) can help improve quality of life in low-income communities.

Community development and public health initiatives share the goal of supporting underserved communities. Recognition is growing that investments made by community developers can increase access to affordable housing and public transit, child care and education, jobs and economic opportunity, ultimately improving community health.

HIAs can inform a variety of community development initiatives, including those that seek to improve public transit systems; support small businesses; and increase access to affordable housing, education, and physical activity programs. Although many community developers already link new affordable housing units or employment opportunities with health benefits, an HIA can ground these connections in data and evidence.

In this article, the authors outline a straightforward framework, based on a review of HIAs, for incorporating health into community development work through four activities: identifying the health needs and status of the community served, considering neighborhood features that influence health, implementing building design features that support health, and engaging the community to build capacity for responding to health concerns.

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