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Example #1: Rolling Hills Apartments: Weaving Together Opportunities for Healthier Lives for a Diverse Immigrant Community

Photo of Rolling Hills Apartments

Twin Cities LISC, a local community development financial institution, has partnered with local organizations and city agencies to create quality affordable housing with improved healthcare access, including constructing a Federally Qualified Health Center. LISC also employed community health advocates to weave together the isolated health-related efforts in the neighborhood of focus into a cohesive health agenda. More specifically, they connect and help support existing efforts, identify and help address gaps, and facilitate the conversations and activities that sustain collaboration.

Learn how social determinants of health are being addressed to build healthier lives for immigrants in St. Paul, Minnesota in this Community Close-Up from the Building Healthy Places Network.

Contributed by Lia Thompson, University of Kansas, Community Tool Box Intern.


Example #2: Community Development 2.0—Collective Impact Focuses a Neighborhood Strategy for Health

The East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) has built health into its strategic plan, and in the neighborhood revitalization work of The San Pablo Collaborative (SPARC), convened by EBALDC, health is the first priority. The San Pablo Area Revitalization Corridor neighborhood that stretches between downtown Oakland and Emeryville is considered to be one of the poorest and most disadvantaged areas of Oakland, California. Life expectancy in this area is up to 20 years lower than the neighboring area, Oakland Hills. SPARC works tirelessly to address the physical, social and economic factors-“social determinants”- that shape residents’ health in the San Pablo Avenue Corridor. SPARC partners work collectively in order to create an overall healthier environment for residents throughout the neighborhood. The California Hotel has been successfully preserved as affordable housing and a grocery store has been brought to this long abandoned neighborhood.

Learn how social determinants of health are being addressed to build healthier lives for the most disadvantaged areas of Oakland, California in this Community Close-Up from the Building Healthy Places Network.

Contributed by Lia Thompson, University of Kansas, Community Tool Box Intern.


Example #3: From Homelessness to Housing in San Francisco: Portraits and Oral History

As we build collaboration across sectors, storytelling and art that lifts up success stories become more and more important. A moving new multi-media art project called “Everyone Deserves a Home” on display in San Francisco’s Public Library asks 40 formally homeless residents in supportive housing, “what does home mean to you?”

Image of the gallery in San Francisco.


Example #4: A Tour of Mariposa: Equitable Transit-Oriented Development

The Mariposa Project led by the Denver Housing Authority is an affordable and transit-oriented housing development in which health outcomes and community-level improvements are evaluated. The new mixed-income community has revitalized the surrounding areas, breaking down physical barriers between the public housing units and the rest of the community and infusing the area with community-informed retail and services. The Denver Housing Authority has transformed 10th Street into a promenade that connects the rail station to the nearby Art District on Santa Fe, drawing visitors from across the city to an area that was once overlooked.

Photo of DHA Executive Director Ismael Guerrero at the Mariposa development in Denver, Colo.

Contributed by Lia Thompson, University of Kansas, Community Tool Box Intern.


Example #5: The Brandywine Center: In Pennsylvania, Wealthy County’s Poorer Residents Get A Healthy Place To Live

Although Chester County, Pennsylvania, has been considered one of the richest counties in the country, seven percent of its half-million residents live in poverty. Coatesville, a city of 13,000 people, is one such low-income pocket. To combat this problem, the Brandywine Health Foundation (BHF) constructed the Brandywine Center, a community hub. The four-story building houses health and dental services on the first floor, behavioral care on the fourth, and 24 units of affordable senior housing on the two middle floors. The BHF is committed to working toward both improved neighborhood conditions and improved health in this low-income community.

Photo of Brandywine Center.

Contributed by Lia Thompson, University of Kansas, Community Tool Box Intern.


Example #6: Vita Health & Wellness District: Health at the Center of a Neighborhood Transformation

The Vita Health & Wellness District project was established through a partnership between the Stamford housing authority and Stamford hospital to revitalize an impoverished inner city area, in Stamford Connecticut, into a mixed-income community with expanded neighborhood services centered around a sustainable urban farm. Addressing the social determinants of health provide a framework for managing the neighborhood transformation in ways that would support and strengthen the existing community.

The Vita project is a great example of how a hospital can fulfill the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to engage its community by partnering to address the social determinants of health. The project also demonstrates how a forward-thinking community development organization can effectively partner with the health sector to pursue comprehensive community revitalization that could not have been achieved otherwise. These are still early days in what promises to be a fruitful and long-lasting partnership.

Image of the community gardening.

Read more about the Vita Health & Wellness District project on the Building Healthy Places Network blog.

Contributed by Lia Thompson, University of Kansas, Community Tool Box Intern.


Example #9: Supporting Childhood Wellness Through Healthy, Affordable Housing

In a low-income Philadelphia community, for-profit and non-profit developers have partnered to create Paseo Verde, a high-quality housing development highlighting resident and community health. The development prides itself on making healthy housing accessible even for families in poverty. This one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment complex, Paseo Verde, supports children’s health through its environmentally sustainable design, on-site health center and pharmacy, resident service programs, and social service programs.

Read more in the profile from How Housing Matters.

Contributed by Lia Thompson, University of Kansas, Community Tool Box Intern.


Example #10: A Ride to Better Health

The Mariposa project is on the front lines of a rapidly growing movement seeking to reconnect low-income residents to the critical networks — transit, affordable housing, jobs — that are the cornerstones of opportunity. By centering development efforts around a transit stop, planners are hoping to reinvigorate a neighborhood by connecting its residents to integral supports and services, from hospitals to schools to grocery stores , all while paying heed to the risks of gentrification and displacement.

Image of diverse children in an urban garden.


Example #11: Building Strong Neighborhoods with Affordable Housing

The New Settlement Apartments project began in 1990 with the acquisition and restoration of fifteen abandoned buildings, the construction of a new building, in addition to the acquisition of a seventeenth building to provide over 1,022 affordable homes for a community of more than 3,500 people, in which thirty percent are formerly homeless. Presently, the eighteenth building is under construction to provide sixty additional affordable apartments. This project has played a monumental role in transforming one of the worst areas of New York City into a vibrant mixed-income neighborhood.

Read more from the Settlement Housing Fund.

Contributed by Lia Thompson, University of Kansas, Community Tool Box Intern.


Example #12: ‘Housing first’ model making inroads on homelessness

Photo of a mother and daughter hugging on a front porch.

People who are homeless in the Arlington, Virginia, area can turn to the Homeless Services Center at the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network for the health and support services that they cannot easily access. Medical care, food, shelter, counseling and job training are all available to people who need assistance.

Such wraparound services are vital to people who are homeless, but the “housing first” model is at the heart of the organization’s mission.

Housing first is based on the premise that housing is necessary for health, security, and wellness, and that people need not meet a long list of prerequisites to access permanent housing. While some programs require people to enter treatment programs for addiction or mental health or be employed before they are housed, housing first posits that with the right services and support, such issues can be better addressed after housing is secured. Read more from the Nation's Health.


Example #13: Kansas City Builds Tiny House Village for Homeless Veterans

“Approximately 40 percent of homeless men are veterans, according to The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Nearly half of those suffer from mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder and another 50 percent struggle with substance use. While government programs do exist to help veterans re-acclimate to civilian life, too many fall through the cracks. So the citizens of Kansas City and other concerned Americans have decided to take matters into their own hands.” Read more.


Example #14:  Chicago Regional Funding Pool Helps the Chronically Homeless Get Off the Street and Into a Permanent Home

A homeless person in a sleeping bag on a city street.

A successful demonstration program lays the foundation for a $13 million funding pool for supportive housing. Homelessness is a health risk at any time, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s an even greater risk. Legislators are looking at ways to better cope with the problem. Read more.


Example #15: The Tiny-House Village That’s Changing Lives

Photo of the tiny houses in a row.

Agape Village is a place where people find community, structure, stability — and a path to permanent housing. Agape Village, located on the grounds of the city’s Central Nazarene Church, consists of 13 simple wooden huts. Sarah Chapman, outreach coordinator at Agape, calls them sleeping pods, but they are more like tiny homes. Read more.


Example #16: Kansas City Adopts a Tenants Bill of Rights

Kansas City skyline.

A group of tenants in Kansas City, Missouri, is celebrating a victory after the city council approved legislation last week creating a tenants’ bill of rights. The bill is a public resource that will help tenants navigate their relationship with landlords, and — just as critically, organizers say — an official expression of solidarity from the local governing body. Read more.


Example #17: Fair Chance Housing in Seattle

Seattle skyline

In August 2017, the City of Seattle passed Fair Chance Housing legislation to help prevent unfair bias in housing against renters with a past criminal record. The new ordinance prevents landlords from unfairly denying applicants housing based on criminal history. It also prohibits the use of advertising language that automatically or categorically excludes people with arrest records, conviction records, or criminal history. Read more.


Example #18: Renter Protection Policies in Minneapolis

Minneapolis skyline

The City of Minneapolis has adopted renter protection policies as part of their Housing Maintenance Code. Violations of these policies may lead to citations or other penalties. Here's what property owners and managers need to know to stay in compliance. Read more.


Example #19: Lawrence Community Shelter to debut tiny home village for families experiencing homelessness

Photo of two tiny homes.

The Lawrence Community Shelter in Lawrence, Kansas, is preparing to open a tiny home village that shelter leaders say will provide a better environment for families experiencing homelessness. The shelter has partnered with the long-running University of Kansas architecture program Studio 804 on the tiny homes project, Monarch Village. Read more.


Example #20: Defining and Unpacking the Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity–A Culture of Health Webinar

Image of two women of color gardening, along with the title of the webinar.

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) held the first webinar in its Culture of Health Webinar Series on November 29, 2018. The National Academies report Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity identified nine social determinants of health and how these determinants impact our health and the health of our communities. It features efforts to grow affordable housing. The report also defines health equity as the state in which everyone has the opportunity to attain full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or any other socially defined circumstance. Read more.


Example #21: Dutch prisons turned into welcoming homes for refugees

Woman on a scaffolding, painting the exterior of a prison with bright colors.

Plunging crime rates throughout the Netherlands have left Dutch prisons empty - and a new, creative way has been found to make those empty buildings useful. The government has restyled these former prisons to become temporary homes for refugees and has partnered with an artist group called United Painting to make these buildings beautiful. Partnering with local artists, United Painting has turned these buildings into functional pieces of art, transforming “ this huge complex with six giant grey towers that have long been an eyesore in Amsterdam’s skyline” into a beautiful, welcoming place for refugees. While living in these restyled buildings, refugees practice their Dutch, learn to ride bikes, and create lasting connections. Read more.


Example #22: Tackling homelessness and saving money: Permanent supportive housing

City streets in Denver.

Denver, Colorado, like many U.S. cities, struggles with an ever-growing homeless population. Unlike many other cities, however, Denver has taken a new approach to tackle homelessness, while also saving money. The permanent supportive housing program works not only to house unhoused people, but to help them stay housed by providing them with a skilled support team made up of social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, and peer mentors. This program is also unique in that instead of putting the burden on unhoused people to find and apply for the program, it actively tracks down people that need its services. This program has both decreased Denver’s homeless population and saved them money by lowering the city’s spending on “police, court, emergency medical, ambulance, and jail services.” This program is not without its struggles, however. There is pushback from conservatives, homeowners, and businesses, too many people and not enough beds, and the challenge of finding skilled teams to run the program. But with the statistics in permanent supportive housing’s favor, it’s likely that this program will continue to develop and grow. Read more.


Example #23: California is turning hotels into permanent housing

Abstract art image of a newspaper collage.

Homekey, which was first launched in July 2020 in response to the pandemic with $600 million in funding, provides grants to local municipalities to transition hotels, motels and other commercial housing buildings into permanent residences for Californians experiencing homelessness. Last year’s launch and the first round of funding resulted in the creation of more than 6,000 units. Read more.


Example #24: Putting Faith in a Local—and Ingenious—Solution for Affordable Housing

Group of people of color, standing outside a church.

LISC’s New York Land Opportunity Program is helping churches and other mission-driven groups build capacity and scale the steep learning curve that leads to developing affordable housing on their land. Three years in, the effort is making promising inroads into the city’s affordable housing crisis, and inspiring similar initiatives in communities across the country. Read more.


Example #25: Houston Has Housed 25,000 Homeless People With Apartments of Their Own

Houston skyline.

Houston has reduced homelessness over the last decade by 63% using a housing first approach.  “The logic…is that if someone’s already drowning, it doesn’t help to teach them how to swim first.” Read more.


Example #26: Community-Owned Land Trusts Catch Hospitals’ Eye

Image of house.

As an undocumented immigrant growing up on Chicago’s West Side, Jeisson Apolo and his mother were at the mercy of their landlord. “He saw the fear in our eyes and took advantage of it,” Jeisson said. “He raised the rent every month.”

Jeisson, 28, promised himself he’d never live like that again. After graduating from Cornell with a degree in architecture and another in urban planning, he wanted to sink some roots and buy a home. But in Richmond, Va., where he’d moved after college, prices were already beyond reach. Read more.