Investing in the Infrastructure of Neighborhoods: Cross Disciplinary Partnerships for Revitalization and Community Health Improvement
Tuesday, November 3, 2015: 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Evidence for neighborhood impact on health continues to grow, adding nuance and detail to our understanding that when it comes to health, 'your zip code is more important than your genetic code.' New studies on 'toxic stress' and brain development have begun to uncover mechanisms by which neighborhood exposures, such as unsafe streets or unstable and poor quality housing, can get 'under the skin' with lifelong impacts on health outcomes. Whereas many place-based health initiatives have focused on improving access to health-promoting amenities (e.g., healthy food markets, recreational facilities for improved physical activity), addressing toxic stress requires a more integrated and holistic approach. Broad-based and equitable improvements to neighborhood infrastructure (housing, commercial space, public and community space, schools, parks and transit/transportation) require active public and private partners and a health-in-all-policies – indeed, a health across sectors – approach to create functional and prosperous communities.
The non-profit community development industry is already making progress on this front. Through public-private partnerships, the sector invests more than $200 billion annually into infrastructure in low-income neighborhoods, with the goal of improving living conditions for residents. The most impactful community development efforts have transformed neighborhoods by working across sectors to integrate physical development, community engagement, and social services. By addressing many social determinants of health at once, these investments suggest significant promise for improving resident health. However, community developers have not widely considered or evaluated the health outcomes of their projects. Meanwhile, health practitioners have only begun to consider the health potential for partnering in these large-scale community revitalization efforts. Increased collaboration between public health and community development can bring health outcomes for these efforts explicitly into focus, help optimize intervention strategies for health, and provide natural experiments to build the evidence base for holistic interventions for disadvantaged communities in a limited-resource environment.
In this special session, we bring together leaders from the health and community development sectors to discuss how these sectors add value to each others' work. Specifically, this session will discuss how community development can bring a health focus more firmly to bear on infrastructure investments in low income communities; and how public health can partner with the community development sector to build the evidence base and deepen our understanding of the role of place in health. Don Schwarz of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will discuss the role foundations can play to foster and support this work. Calvin Holmes of the Chicago Community Loan Fund will explain the important role non-profit financial institutions play in supporting local community development organizations negotiating the complex funding required to complete valuable projects meeting neighborhood needs. We will hear from Mark Angelini of Mercy Housing, Lakefront about the importance of service-enriched housing for low-income and homeless community residents, and Olis Simmons of Youth UpRising will share a community-based perspective on integrating program and infrastructure development. Finally, Douglas Jutte of the Build Healthy Places Network will discuss the importance of bridging the chasm between community development and health by supporting and catalyzing cross-sector collaboration.
Session Objectives: Describe the national scale and scope of community development efforts taking place in some of the highest health-risk neighborhoods.
Explain the important roles of community developers, community development financial institutions, foundations and community partners in creating better functioning and healthier neighborhoods.
Discuss the opportunities that public health partnerships in community development efforts promise for strengthening health outcomes by sharpening the explicit focus on health and building the evidence base about the role of place in health.
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.
Organized by: APHA-Special Sessions
Endorsed by: Injury Control and Emergency Health Services
Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)