The Institute for Local Government’s Healthy Neighborhoods program 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.
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.
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
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.
Local decisions about land use, community design and
transportation have a dramatic impact on the economic vitality
and health of our communities. These decisions also have a major
impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the air that we breathe.
Local leaders that engage residents in understanding this
connection and that champion well-designed communities with
healthier, more efficient transportation options, are better
positioned to partner with state and regional agencies to obtain