On July 13, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation hosted the Healthy Communities Conference in Washington, D.C. The event, held at the Federal Reserve, explored how the community development, finance and public health sectors can collaborate to revitalize our homes, neighborhoods and communities to improve the health of all Americans.
For the community development groups, the conference was an opportunity to learn how its investments in affordable housing, grocery stores, day-care centers, charter schools and more can have a positive impact on health. For public health groups, it was a chance to better understand how investments from outside the health sector can bring promising local programs to scale and significantly improve the health of communities.
Real progress was made in connecting groups from across sectors, and having many diverse perspectives—from White House, HHS, OMB and HUD officials to private-sector and nonprofit experts—in the room was essential. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, James Marks and the Commission to Build a Healthier America’s David Williams and Angela Glover Blackwell were among the speakers leading a spirited discussion about how unlikely partners—finance and public health—can work together.
As U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Howard Koh so aptly put it, “Health is too important to be left to the health sector alone.”
This unique new collaboration began with a journal published by the San Francisco branch of the Federal Reserve that describes the role of banking and community development in addressing the negative effects of the social determinants of health. For both public health and community development finance groups, the journal and the July conference opened the door to a new partnership to improve the lives of children and families in communities across the United States.