Online Program

Health impact assessment of strategic renewal strategy on Detroit's high vacancy neighborhoods: The effects of infrastructure, public lighting, and demolition on disinvested neighborhoods

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 2:50 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.

Chris M. Coombe, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Angela G. Reyes, MPH, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Detroit, MI
Donele Wilkins, Green Door Initiative, Detroit, MI
Amy J. Schulz, PhD, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Barbara A. Israel, DrPH, MPH, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Kurt Metzger, Data Driven Detroit (D3), Detroit, MI
Ben Cave, Ben Cave Associates Ltd., Leeds, United Kingdom
Danielle Jacobs, MPH, MUP, School of Public Health/School of Urban Planning, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Detroit has experienced substantial loss of jobs and population, resulting in widespread disinvestment and vacancy in historically vibrant neighborhoods. To address this, the Detroit Future City (DFC) strategic framework was developed to guide the revitalization of Detroit. A key strategy is to realign infrastructure renewal and blight reduction/demolition to stabilize the most populated areas and transition high vacancy neighborhoods to non-residential land uses.


Healthy Neighborhoods for a Healthy Detroit (D-HIA), a community-academic partnership of the Detroit Urban Research Center, conducted a health impact assessment to look at how DFC infrastructure, demolition, and street lighting realignment may affect the health of the 90,000 people living in high vacancy neighborhoods. We examined impacts on neighborhood determinants of health: stability/population density, social networks, social cohesion, safety, crime dispersion, displacement, gentrification, and exposure to environmental hazards such as lead and demolition debris. D-HIA looked at potential positive and negative impacts depending on whether people remain or leave, and the distribution of impacts on vulnerable groups (impoverished, children, youth, women, and elderly) and equity.


We discuss and analyze key findings, including potential health impacts of reduced/delayed infrastructure investment on mortality, heart disease, violence, asthma, lead poisoning, and cancer. Recommendations include: provide basic infrastructure and supports for neighborhoods experiencing continuing decline; implement community-based planning; mitigate detrimental impacts of displacement (homelessness, increased costs); and establish policies to protect against negative effects of gentrification.


We discuss strengths, challenges, and lessons learned for using HIA to promote health and equity in urban regeneration.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe how HIA can inform planning decisions to address the impacts of urban population and revenue loss List potential positive and negative health impacts of infrastructure, lighting, blight and demolition on neighborhood residents Identify three recommendations for protecting health when revitalizing urban neighborhoods

Keyword(s): Health Assessment, Urban Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I played a lead role in developing and carrying out the HIA.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.