Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund

At a Glance:

Location: Roxbury, Massachusetts

Date: 2013

Vital Condition: Basic Needs for Health and Safety, Belonging and Civic Muscle, Humane Housing, Reliable Transportation, Thriving Natural World

Determinants of Health: neighborhood safety, belonging and civic muscle, affordable housing, active transportation, parks, food access, traffic safety, clean air, clean water, housing, complete communities

Affected Population: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, Urban Communities

Research Methods: Literature review, Qualitative research, Quantitative research

Community Types: urban

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The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), conducted an HIA of three transit-oriented development projects—Mission Hill/Parcel 25, Bartlett Place/Nuestra Comunidad, and Madison Park/Tropical Foods—in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The HIA informed the projects’ development process and helped define the health metrics to be included in the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund, a proposed $30 million private equity reserve to support healthier communities by funding transit-oriented projects.

The HIA explored potential health impacts in several areas, including safety, economic opportunity, green space, air quality, and access to healthy, affordable food. The HIA found that all three projects would have an overall positive effect and made recommendations to mitigate any possible negative impacts from changes to air quality and traffic safety.

The HIA recommended analyses during and after construction to ensure that air quality levels do not degrade beyond projected levels; that “diesel retrofit” is used in construction equipment to reduce air pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide; and that a Complete Streets approach to roadway design is applied to safely accommodate cyclists, pedestrians, public transit users, and cars.

The team used 12 health determinants, based on the pathways in the HIA, to recommend health metrics to use when deciding which projects to support through the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund. The metrics focus on data sources that are public, accessible, and available at the neighborhood level anywhere in the state of Massachusetts.

This HIA was funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative.

This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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