Healthy Places for Healthy People

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US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Community Revitalization

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Modeled after EPA’s Local Foods, Local Places technical assistance program, Renaissance supported the development and implementation of Healthy Places for Healthy People. This technical assistance program integrates smart growth approaches for the built environment with techniques supporting improved community health and livability. Cornerstones of this program are supporting active living in our built environments and working with community health care providers who can help catalyze holistic community and economic development.

Each community selected by EPA staff to receive the Healthy Places for Healthy People technical assistance participates in a two-day workshop. Renaissance staff work closely with residents and local stakeholders, creating a short-term action plan designed to achieve the community’s health and place-based goals. The 2017 pilot round of Healthy Places for Healthy People communities included Montgomery and Smithers, West Virginia; Nogales, Arizona; Waterville, Maine.

Later in 2017, Renaissance led a second round of the Healthy Places for Healthy People program, facilitating assistance in another seven communities: Anderson, Indiana; Bangor, Maine; Powell County, Kentucky; Greensboro, Alabama; Los Angeles, California; Monett, Missouri; Port Townsend, Washington. In early 2018, the team kicked off the program’s Round 3, and has since delivered technical assistance to five communities including Bunkie, Louisiana; Livingston, Alabama; Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana; Wenatchee, Washington; and Weldon, North Carolina. Supplementing the technical assistance delivered this round is a short video developed and produced by Renaissance Planning, highlighting the Healthy Places for Healthy People workshop in Livingston, Alabama.

Renaissance has shared the story of the Healthy Places for Healthy People program on several national platforms. Healthy Places for Healthy People communities have also been successful at leveraging the assistance received through this EPA program, into other opportunities. For example, in Montgomery and Smithers, West Virginia, the Fayette County Diabetes Coalition was selected as a member of the 2018 National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health cohort. The Diabetes Coalition believes that a large part of their success is based on the Healthy Places for Healthy People workshop and resulting Community Action Plan. And late in 2018, it was announced that Waterville, Maine – a pilot Healthy Places for Healthy People community – would receive a $7.37 million federal BUILD grant to change the traffic patterns downtown from one-way to two-way, improve intersections, update sidewalks, do plantings, install benches and complete the RiverWalk at Head of Falls. Updates such as these to downtown were a key part of Waterville’s Community Action Plan.