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

IForum Shows Connections Among Housing, Health and Planning

26 April 2012

Showing that housing patterns and income segregation have crucial, negative impacts on public health and that we can effectively plan our built environment to counteract these negative impacts was the subject of the April 25 IForum. Declaring that “the built environment is social policy in concrete,” guest speaker Dr. Robert Ogilvie offered steps to transform our communities into places where we “make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

The forum - Housing and Land Use for a Healthy Public: Planning, Design and Development to Promote Health Equity - drew a diverse crowd of over 100 attendees from a wide variety of sectors, including public health, planning, government, the environment, community outreach, housing and many more. Presentations by the Partnership’s Shelby Mertes and Sharon Mierzwa of the CT Association of Directors of Health, on housing and public health respectively, offered background for the presentation made by Dr. Robert Ogilvie. Dr. Ogilvie’s remarks focused on how communities can work on making the policy changes necessary to “reintroduce public health and planning.” A panel discussion offered local examples of successful collaborative planning and public health initiatives.


If you are having trouble viewing the slide show, click here.

Shelby Mertes, Chief Policy Analyst at the Partnership for Strong Communities, focused his presentation on how the lack of affordable housing options in opportunity-rich areas and patterns of income segregation in Connecticut are connected to various negative outcomes for communities.  Mertes also discussed planning tools and policies that are being used to expand opportunity for low and moderate income households. 

Sharon Mierzwa, Program Director for Health Equity at the CT Association of Directors of Health, discussed the Health Equity Index and how it can be used by communities to better connect planning and public health to improve the health outcomes of community members.

Robert Ogilvie, Ph.D. of Public Health Law & Policy, offered insights on how communities can go about promoting better public health outcomes through the choices they make regarding how to design and use the built environment. 

A panel - featuring Leslie Creane, Town Planner for the Town of Hamden, Robert Miller, Health Director of the Eastern Highlands Health District and Emily Moos, Senior Planner and Policy Analyst at the Capitol Region Council of Governments - offered examples of local and regional efforts to incorporate public health into effective community planning. 

Housing and Land Use for a Healthy Public: Planning, Design and Development to Promote Health Equity was organized by the CT Association of Directors of Health, the CT Chapter of the American Planning Association and the Partnership for Strong Communities. Funding for the event was provided by the CT Health Foundation.

Event materials:
Robert Ogilvie Presentation
Sharon Mierzwa Presentation
Shelby Mertes Presentation

Hotspots in Camden, NJ

APACT-Planning for Healthy Communities
CT Integrated Healthcare and Housing Neighborhoods FactSheet 
CT Fair Housing Center - Distribution of Opportunity Mapping
      - The full report is available here
HHS - National Prevention Strategy
Resources to support planning public health collaborations
CADH Policy Brief: Housing and Planning for a Healthy Public 

Click here for the full recording of the event on the CT-N website.

Click here to learn more about the 2012 IForum series.