Health has a lot to do with where we live—and how the land where we live is used. Affordable housing, parks and green space, public transit, pedestrian safety, and other resources related to land use provide the foundations of community health. These are health-supporting resources that all communities deserve.

Yet, too often, land use reinforces pervasive, historical health inequities. In many parts of the country, 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, affordable housing in all neighborhoods, are critical to reducing health inequities and rectifying racial injustices.

Prevention Institute’s work on land use and housing seeks to fundamentally shift land use planning practices so they promote safe, healthy communities where local business owners and residents have the opportunity to thrive.

Projects & Initiatives

PI works with a breadth of partners and communities to develop strategies and practices to keep people healthy and safe in the first place. Below is a selection of ongoing or recent projects.

  • Healthy, Equitable, Active Land Use Network

    HEALU was formed in response to structural barriers to equity in Los Angeles’ land use arena, and in an effort to strategically and collaboratively promote systems change. HEALU augments the role of health in the land use sphere through training, capacity building, convening and proactively advancing key strategies to ensure a healthier, more equitable land use system.

  • People, Parks, and Power: A National Initiative for Green Space, Health Equity, and Racial Justice

    PI will plan a new national initiative, People, Parks, and Power: A National Initiative for Green Space, Health Equity, and Racial Justice, in partnership with the University of Utah. The initiative is being funded by RWJF. We will co-design a funding program focused on policy and systems changes to increase equitable access to parks and green spaces in low-income communities of color in urban areas across the United States. 

Publications & Other Resources

We research and write reports, white papers, fact sheets, opinion pieces, and journal articles, as well as produce videos and podcasts. Here are some of our latest offerings.

  • Four Shifts to Heal Communities: Advancing Health Equity and Racial Justice in Land Use Planning and the Built Environment

    This new brief describes four shifts in the urban planning sector to advance equity and racial justice, steer decisions more directly toward communities’ benefit, respect grassroots power to drive solutions, and root out pay-to-play influence in the land use system. While this brief was written with insights from the Los Angeles context, the overall principles are applicable to any community working to address inequities in land use and the built environment.

  • Equitable housing is key to health

    In this episode of the Moving Upstream podcast, PI's Associate Program Director Sandra Viera interviews leaders from California’s Central Orange County, High Desert, Sonoma, and Eureka communities who seek to improve health through equitable housing policy as part of the Intersections Initiative.  This work is made possible by the St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund.

  • What Medellín can teach use about healthy and equitable land use

    In this episode of the Moving Upstream podcast, PI’s deputy executive director, Manal J. Aboelata, talks about her  trip to Medellín, Colombia to learn about their innovative improvements to the city’s infrastructure. She explains how this city that was not long ago called “one of the most dangerous cities on earth” has transformed itself through public health investments, and what we in the US can learn from its example.

  • Healthy Development Without Displacement: Realizing the Vision of Healthy Communities for All

    In Healthy Development without Displacement: Realizing the Vision of Healthy Communities for All, we explore: What can people working on “healthy community” issues—like active transportation, parks, healthy food, planning, public health, healthcare, and more—do in their own work to improve community conditions without contributing to gentrification and displacement?

  • BRIEF: Countering the Production of Health Inequities: Ensuring the Opportunity for Health for All

    In this brief, Countering the Production of Health Inequities: Ensuring the Opportunity for Health for All, Prevention Institute analyzes how various sectors such as housing, education, and economic development have contributed to inequities in health but also have important roles to play in achieving health equity. There is a role for every institution, sector, and system working together to achieve an equitable culture of health across the United States.

Profiles in Action

  • Male Engagement Network: Men Making Connections

    In Boston, a history of structural racism has resulted in underfunded schools, inadequate housing, and other community conditions that generate trauma for men of color. Since 2016, Boston's Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC) has convened the Boston Making Connections coalition to promote mental wellbeing for men of color and their families.

  • Safe Lead Yard Project (Boston)

    Boston Lead-Safe Yard Project uses affordable techniques to mitigate exposure to lead in inner-city yards. Now that they have proven that affordable remediation techniques can reduce urban lead exposure, project members are working to ensure these effective lead-safe yard techniques are applied in neighborhoods across the country.

  • Countering the Production of Health Inequities through Systems and Sectors

    The opportunity to be healthy is not afforded to everyone in America. As a result, many preventable illnesses occur in higher frequency, earlier, and with greater severity among people living in concentrated poverty and in communities of color. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Prevention Institute analyzed what has contributed to these inequities to determine a pathway forward to produce health equity.