The Institute for Local Government’s Healthy Neighborhoods program provides support and resources to protect and improve community health by integrating health considerations into their planning, land use and other decisions.
The resources are geared to strengthen the efforts of local officials, staff, planning and development professionals, and community residents in creating healthier communities.
Healthy neighborhoods offer bikeable, walkable or transit-oriented transportation systems that are safe, provide appropriate travel options, are easily accessed, and are feasible for all populations and all trips.
Local leaders can provide opportunities for physical activity in daily life by designing transportation systems to accommodate and encourage walking and bicycling for travel to work, school and other daily destinations.
Community services and programs operated by public agencies and community groups provide health benefits by facilitating social interaction and support, promoting healthy living and promoting equitable access to community resources.
Residents’ perception of safety impacts their health and well-being by influencing their level of engagement in physical and social activities. Residents who don’t feel safe in their communities are less likely to be involved, increasing their risk of isolation, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Local agencies can help by supporting neighborhood design features that reduce the risk of injuries and support crime prevention. For example, better-lit areas decrease the likelihood of theft and violence and increase the feeling of safety and security. If designed appropriately, increasing neighborhood density provides more people supervising public space. Local agencies can also enforce local codes to clean up vacant lots, contaminated or polluted sites and reduce graffiti.
Efforts to improve employee wellness are beneficial to both employee and employer. Programs and policies that prevent obesity, support healthy nutrition, provide tobacco cessation resources, encourage physical activity can reduce health care costs.
As employers, local agencies can play an important role in reducing the high rates of preventable chronic diseases. Local agencies can also promote good health by including design characteristics, green building materials and accommodations for active commuting and exercise in buildings.
Local decisions about land use, community design and transportation have a dramatic impact on the economic vitality and health of our communities. These decisions also have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the air that we breathe. Local leaders that engage residents in understanding this connection and that champion well-designed communities with healthier, more efficient transportation options, are better positioned to partner with state and regional agencies to obtain funding.