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.
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.
Key words: bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
transit-oriented development, complete streets, safe routes to
school, connectivity, trail plans, design standards, traffic
safety, sidewalk improvements, traffic calming, street trees,
capital and public works, transportation planners
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.
Local programs and community services:
Ensure easy access to safe parks.
Create quality recreational facilities and programs.
Increase availability of local school grounds to include
after-school and weekend hours to facilitate physical activity,
social cohesion, and improved neighborhood safety.
Provide access to health care and wellness programs.
Provide programs and services that promote contact with
nature to reduce stress, improve mental health, and facilitate
recovery from illness.
Key words: recreation facilities, recreation programs, joint
use, wellness programs, access to health care, collaborative
decision-making, access to nature, parks and recreation
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
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
Key words: design for safety, increase neighborhood density,
social relationships, traffic calming, decontamination, code
compliance and enforcement
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.
To provide health benefits, economic development efforts should
focus on neighborhood revitalization and quality of life
improvements for residents. Local leaders can focus on:
Offering easy access to schools, parks, shops, grocery
stores, health care facilities and jobs.
Attracting future community investment and encouraging local
business development that will evolve with the population.
Identifying and highlighting a community’s unique assets.
Key words: access to healthy food, community
investment,attracting grocery stores, encouraging
market conversions,supporting local business and
agriculture,business improvement districts,
farmland preservation, food hubs, economic development
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
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.