Land use is an important determinant of health because it shapes communities' access to health-promoting resources: transportation, jobs, housing, healthy food, safe places to play and be physically active, and more. Yet, too often, land use reinforces pervasive, historical health inequities. In Los Angeles, as in many places, low-income communities of color have not received the same level of investments or innovations in healthy, equitable, and active land uses that have benefited higher income neighborhoods. Better land use decisions, such as increasing access to safe parks and open spaces in all neighborhoods, are critical to reducing health inequities. In Los Angeles, a transformation is underway: more and more, voices for health equity are shaping land use decisions and investments.
Prevention Institute facilitates LA's Healthy, Equitable, Active Land Use (HEALU) Network, whose members represent a broad array of topical expertise (active transportation, parks, affordable housing, safe routes to school, environmental law, public health, and more) and varying approaches, from grassroots organizing to community development to strategic policy advocacy. These high-capacity organizations come together to examine the underlying structural barriers that touch each partner's work across a range of issues. Together, HEALU Network partners identify key ‘levers' of opportunity to fundamentally shift land use planning practices so they promote health equity in the first place.
The HEALU Network works strategically and collaboratively to:
Increase the percentage of public funds invested in health-promoting infrastructure and capacity in low-income communities of color;
Build capacity in government, the private sector, and community based organizations for robust community engagement in land use planning and policymaking;
Accelerate land use innovations and demonstration projects in low-income communities of color; and
Foster cross-government collaboration to embed health and equity in all land use decisions.
The HEALU Network will share its lessons learned broadly through strategic communications, and collaborate with similarly-oriented groups in other locales, to build a national movement for healthy, equitable, active land use nationwide. Join the conversation on Twitter at #HEALU4ALL.
On September 29, 2016, the HEALU Network and Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles’ Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing – South LA initiative hosted a summit on Land Use and Violence Prevention. Check out highlights on Storify and read our blog post recapping the summit.
Can land use decisions help prevent community violence? Our response? A resounding yes. We can make our communities safer by bringing a violence prevention ‘lens’ to guide land use decisions like what gets funded, where things get built, whose voices shape the process, and what policies and programs are in place to ensure that communities of greatest need stand to benefit the most from new investments. Prevention Institute has produced a video that’s exploring the intersection of land use and violence prevention. This video came out of our 2015 Community Safety by Design paper, our 2016 HEALU Network summit in Los Angeles on land use and violence prevention, and a continued exploration of these intersectional issues.