It has been known for some time that many factors beyond health care influence health. More recently, networks of real estate developers, banks, city planners, and non-profit groups have been collaborating with public health and related health-focused institutions to improve health. A key goal is to invest in low-income communities by affording them access to nutritious food, green spaces, and other healthful attributes.
This latest health policy brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation describes activities under way as well as the potential for these two groups to work together, as follows:
- Efforts underway: A look at successful projects, such as the redevelopment of San Francisco’s largest public housing community, Sunnydale. Through a partnership between the developers and the University of California, data are being collected to establish a baseline measurement of residents’ social and physical well-being.
- Federal Initiatives: From the new White House Office of Urban Affairs to the cross-agency initiatives being carried out by the Departments of Health and Human Services, theTreasury, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Education, the federal government is putting a new emphasis on policies at the nexus of health, housing, nutrition, and economic development.
What lies ahead: Concerns about future government funding could threaten existing programs or limit new investments. Another challenge: bridging different agencies’ programmatic boundaries and processes.