The Douglas County Health Department conducted an HIA to inform the Omaha Planning Department and City Council’s Deer Park Neighborhood Redevelopment Plan, which will rehabilitate 33 existing properties, construct five new homes, and assemble a range of partners to address future needs of neighborhood residents. Housing has implications for such health issues as lead poisoning, asthma, injury, and stress.
The HIA found that housing improvements under the redevelopment plan will directly benefit the health of current Deer Park residents. It made several recommendations to maximize the impact, including that the city and the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance conduct healthy home assessments, before and after housing rehabilitation, to monitor indoor air quality metrics and identify additional opportunities to increase health benefits. To protect the health of renters in Deer Park, the HIA recommended providing copies of the recent landlord and tenant handbook developed by Legal Aid of Nebraska and engaging partners to provide education on tenant rights. The HIA also recommended that the city enforce eviction regulations and develop affordable housing safeguards such as indicators of rising housing costs to promote mixed-income neighborhoods and protect the health of low-income residents.
With grant funding from the Health Impact Project, the county Health Department will also strengthen Build With Health, a collaboration of the department, the city, and other partners that was created under a previous grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Build With Health will systematically integrate health and community engagement into the city’s neighborhood revitalization process, including its required National Environmental Policy Act review for housing projects and the creation and implementation of screening checklists.