Finding ways to pay for efforts to create healthy neighborhoods challenges all local officials involved in such efforts. Some policy changes have modest costs or can even save money; examples include crafting joint-use agreements with other public agencies to share facilities, such as athletic fields or community centers. But in many cases, initiatives to promote healthy neighborhoods entail some combination of local support and outside funding. Some of the most common sources of funding are described in this section.
Local agencies fund some health-related programs and investments directly from existing revenue sources. In many cases these may not be specifically identified as “health” expenditures. Understanding the health implications of a wide range of local agency expenditures and capital investments can yield a variety of co-benefits that include better health outcomes along with other programmatic goals, at little additional cost.
Regional agencies provide transportation funding that can be allocated to assist local agencies in their efforts to create healthier neighborhoods. For example, a number of regional metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) award special infrastructure funding to cities and counties that promote development that is accessible by walking, bicycling and transit.
A wide variety of funding programs available through state agencies can support local efforts to increase opportunities for physical activity, promote healthy eating and reduce exposure to environmental hazards. While some of these programs have an explicit health purpose, such as funding to clean up land and water contaminated with toxic compounds, other programs that were developed primarily for other purposes can also deliver health co-benefits. For example:
The relationship between health and the built environment has emerged as an important priority for several federal agencies and programs. The federal interest is driven in large part by concerns about the social, economic and fiscal implications of an increasingly unhealthy population. This concern has spurred a number of federal initiatives that are potential sources of funding and other resources for local efforts to create healthy neighborhoods.
Philanthropic organizations have stepped forward to partner with community-based organizations and local agencies to create healthier communities and neighborhoods. This support has allowed communities to test a range of approaches to improve health outcomes, providing valuable lessons and models for other communities to learn from and emulate. Some of the most prominent current and recent place-based and statewide foundation initiatives in California include: