Healthy Neighborhoods


Healthy Neighborhoods

The Institute for Local Government’s Healthy Neighborhoods Project 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.


Online Guide to Planning Healthy Neighborhoods

Local officials can provide leadership in many ways to create healthy neighborhoods.

This guide:

  • Identifies the reasons to be concerned about the relationship between health and the built environment.
  • Offers options for transforming that concern into a vision for a healthier community.
  • Provides strategies and examples of how to translate that vision into action.

Health, Planning and Community Design

Decisions surrounding planning and community design can have significant impacts on the physical, social and mental health of community members.

Local leaders can influence health impacts when making decisions related to the general plan, zoning and conditional use permits, environmental review and health impact assessments.


Health, Transportation and Mobility

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.


Health and Community Services

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.


Health and Public Safety

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. 


Health and Economic Development

Health and prosperity go hand-in-hand. Research shows that neighborhoods that offer a range of jobs and attract and retain local businesses and industries have healthier residents.


Health and Housing

Where people live, the quality of their housing, the places in and around the home where children play, and the type of land homes are built on can have profound and lasting impacts on health. 

Housing options that serve the needs of all of your residents help create neighborhoods that are vibrant, promote social cohesion and encourage bicycling and walking for recreation and transportation.


Healthy Workplaces

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.