Affordable Housing, Community Development, Reports and Publications, Supportive Housing

Housing and Land Use to Promote Health Equity in CT

CT Chapter of the American Planning Association

The connections between land use planning, housing and public health issues are the focus of a recent article by Shelby Mertes of the Partnership for Strong Communities and Alyssa Norwood of the CT Association of Directors of Health (CADH). The article, appearing in the Winter 2012 edition of Connecticut Planning - the quarterly newsletter of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (CCAPA) – discusses how land use planning that incorporates affordability and sustainability can also have positive impacts on public health issues.

In the article, Mertes and Norwood note that 27% of CT renters earn less than half of the state median income, while paying more than half of their income to housing, leaving little left for food, health care, prescriptions, and other health essentials.  Stating that many of these homes are in various states of disrepair, adding to the reduced living standard and increasing exposure to elements that are harmful to health such as mold, Mertes and Norwood write that renters’ reduced incomes limit their ability to pick up and move to avoid these situations. Additionally, much of development in Connecticut has resulted in sprawl and a reliance on cars to get around.

The authors discuss the growing demand for more compact, walkable, transit-served, mixed-use, mixed-income communities. Such development, among many other benefits, reduces automobile dependency and makes public transit more viable,  thereby: reducing pollution and sedentary lifestyles and increasing community cohesion; allowing for more efficient and cost-effective distribution and delivery of public resources and infrastructure; boosting the local economy by having customers living near businesses; and, through greater density and mixed-income zoning, making housing affordable, not only promoting health equity, but also enabling Connecticut to attract a younger, vital demographic to the state.

Mertes and Norwood comment that, despite similar missions, local public health officials and municipal planning officials have historically had little interaction in Connecticut. Funded by a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation, the CADH, CCAPA, and the Partnership are working to change that. The three organizations are working together to organize a forum - “Housing & Land Use for a Healthy Public: Planning, Design & Development to Promote Health Equity” – to be held on April 25th as part of the Partnership’s IForum series.  The event will feature Robert Ogilvie, Ph.D., Director of the Planning for Healthy Places program at Public Health Law & Policy. 

To read more about “Housing and Land Use to Promote Health Equality” co-authored by the Partnership’s Shelby Mertes and CADH’s Alyssa Norwood, click here

To learn more about or register for the April 25th IForum, “Housing & Land Use for a Healthy Public,” click here


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