What Housing Decision-Makers Should Know about Health Impact Assessments

What Housing Decision-Makers Should Know about Health Impact Assessments
Health Impact Project
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Housing professionals can play an important role in improving health outcomes, and public health professionals can engage in the development decision-making process to ensure health outcomes are considered. A set of issue briefs from the Pew Charitable Trusts provides guidance for both constituencies.

The brief focused on housing professionals and policymakers summarizes how housing matters to health and then introduces health impact assessments (HIAs) as a tool for weaving health into decisions about housing policies and programs. HIA is a multidisciplinary, six-step process that helps decision-makers consider the positive and negative health impacts of proposed projects, policies, plans, and programs through employing quantitative and qualitative data and stakeholder input. Housing-related HIAs address a range of broad health issues, such as access to transportation and job, availability of healthy food, indoor environmental quality, access to parks and open space, and neighborhood segregation.

The brief provides clear steps for housing officials to get started with HIAs and clarifies the value of HIAs for housing professionals.

Major findings:

  • Healthy home construction and renovation practices can reduce turnover by improving residents’ health and preventing falls.
  • By bringing housing officials together with hospitals, accountable care organizations, and public health officials, housing-related HIAs provide new partnership opportunities that may improve resident service delivery or open new funding opportunities.
  • HIAs’ community engagement process can generate buy-in that improves a development’s likelihood of success.
  • HIAs can complement mandated impact assessments by building on the analyses of probable effects.