The South Heartland District Health Department, with technical assistance from the Douglas County Health Department and Human Impact Partners, conducted an HIA of implementation of Phase 2 of a nuisance abatement plan in Superior, Nebraska. The plan was intended to help identify, enforce, and resolve problems such as vacant or unsecured properties, dilapidated structures, junk vehicles, and uncontrolled vegetation. During Phase 1 implementation, 55 percent of properties reviewed required some type of abatement, and the Superior City Council eventually declared 18 percent of those to be public nuisances.
The HIA conducted a community poll to determine what factors residents consider when thinking about a “healthy community” and to refine the scope of the study. Residents defined a healthy community as one with employment opportunities; strong ties to neighbors; working together; strong economic development; safe places to walk and play; and occupied, well-kept housing. Based on these characteristics, the HIA focused on the potential health implications of changes to the local economy, social cohesion, safety, and physical activity arising from Phase 2 implementation.
The HIA found that continued enforcement of nuisance code violations would support a healthy community as defined through the polling and that continued implementation of the abatement plan would probably decrease the incidence of physical injury and chronic diseases and positively affect residents’ mental health. The HIA made several recommendations, including ensuring consistency in the definition of a nuisance; conducting an annual survey to gauge resident satisfaction with the program; investigating recycling opportunities; and creating and implementing a monitoring plan to track specific effects of the abatement plan and provide feedback to the community through public reports.
The project was funded by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.