Cities and counties use a variety of approaches to actively promote their local economy’s growth and vitality. Economic development efforts also provide ways for local officials to promote healthier neighborhoods.
Research has shown that many businesses, particularly those that offer more generous wages and benefits, choose to locate and stay in communities that deliver a higher quality of life to current and prospective employees. In many cases, these quality–of-life elements — trails and bikeways, parks and recreation programs, walkable town centers, urban forests and neighborhoods free of excessive noise and air pollution — also contribute to a healthier population.
Communities change over time, evolving in response to demographic trends, changing economic conditions and other circumstances. Guiding this change in a positive direction is an important function of local government, particularly in older neighborhoods that have lost jobs and local businesses as their traditional economic activities have weakened or become obsolete. These neighborhoods often suffer from aging infrastructure and inadequate public and private investment as well as other social and economic challenges.
Healthy neighborhoods provide a range of housing types — single-family homes, duplexes, town homes and apartments — to suit the needs of diverse cross section of residents. A neighborhood’s housing stock can have implications for the health of its residents. Important factors in assessing the potential effects of housing on health include design, maintenance, location, affordability and conditions in the surrounding community.