COH Site

Tampa, Florida


The third largest city in Florida, Tampa is a large metropolitan area surrounding Tampa Bay, a natural harbor on the state’s west coast.

Tampa’s first inhabitants included the Tocobaga and Pohoy tribes, which were later absorbed into the Seminoles. Early contact between Spanish settlers and native peoples in the 1500s led to the spread of disease, devastating local populations and leaving Tampa Bay largely uninhabited by the mid-1600s. In 1824, shortly after assuming possession of Florida from Spain, the U.S. established the Tampa Settlement, though growth remained slow until 1884, when railroad, port, and luxury hotel construction boosted trade and tourism. The city’s rapid growth brought a number of social problems along with prosperity. In the first half of the 20th century, Tampa became notorious for organized crime activity and unpunished violence against Black people and the large immigrant population. After desegregation in the second half of the century, the city faced a period of racial unrest.

Today, Tampa is committed to creating a healthier, more equitable environment for its racially, ethnically, and economically diverse residents, however structural barriers and many of the racial disparities from the city’s history persist.

  • Overview

    Population and Demographics

    Population: 347,645

    U.S. Census Bureau; photography courtesy Flickr user Matthew Paulson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

  • Context and Actions

    Community Context and Challenges

    • Poverty disproportionately affects Black (49%) and Hispanic (29%) children, compared to white (18%) and Asian (10%) children.
    • A federal investigation revealed deplorable living conditions in the city’s public housing, where many Black and Hispanic residents were once concentrated in segregated neighborhoods.
    • Tampa’s high uninsured rate (17%, compared to 14% nationally) makes it difficult for lower income residents to access health care to prevent and manage chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
    • Tampa has higher rates of births to teen mothers (3%) and babies born at a low birth weight (11%), compared with the state (2% and 9%, respectively).
    • The aging population is growing rapidly and with the uninsured rate among adults aged 55 to 64, equitable access to affordable health care remains a challenge.

    U.S. Census Bureau. (2010, 2014). 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

    ACS, 2010-2014.

    Taking Action

    Cross-sector initiatives have concentrated on improving the built environment to support healthy living and greater equity for all residents.

    Initiatives focus on reducing economic segregation and improving safety in public housing, developing a master plan to support community wellness, and engaging community members in local efforts. However, they are potentially offset by the city’s high uninsured rate, which is likely to continue in light of Florida’s decision not to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

    These baseline reports, created in 2016, track community programs and initiatives in their early stages and measure initial progress only. Future reports will provide more in-depth insights and analysis into this community's efforts to build a Culture of Health.

    Creating a Healthier Sulphur Springs for Kids

    The Creating a Healthier Sulphur Springs for Kids Coalition focuses on engaging the community in every facet of its work—from developing and administering a survey to examine perceptions and health habits of neighbors to identifying priority areas that guide the coalition’s obesity prevention efforts. With community members as the driving force behind the coalition's work Sulphur Springs is nurturing its sense of community and coming together to develop a shared understanding of how the community can best address childhood obesity.

    Hillsborough County Breastfeeding Taskforce

    The Hillsborough County Breastfeeding Taskforce—a multisector grassroots organization with representatives from the Florida Health Department in Hillsborough County, health care and research sectors—implemented the “Anytime, Anywhere” social marketing campaign on the benefits of breastfeeding. As a result of this campaign, Tampa now has nearly 40 organizations, including health care facilities, faith-based organizations, hair and nail salons, restaurants and daycares touting the “Anytime, Anywhere” logo, providing a supportive environment for nursing moms in Tampa.

    Downtown Master Plan

    The city of Tampa received a $1.2 million Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant from HUD in 2010 to develop a downtown master plan for the primary transit corridor. The master plan was completed in 2012 by AECOM, a global engineering design firm, and articulates a shared vision of downtown Tampa as a community of diverse, safe neighborhoods connected by walking and biking paths.

    Meeting Senior Needs

    The University of South Florida in Tampa recently received a three-year, $2.24 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration's Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. The University will partner with Tampa's Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Senior Connection Centers to prepare a geriatric workforce to better meet the needs of Tampa's aging population. The partnership is also expected to provide primary care services to 6,000 underserved FQHC patients age 60 or older.

  • Going Forward

    Tampa has demonstrated a strong commitment to building an environment conducive to healthy living. The city has invested significant resources to reduce economic segregation and improve safety in public housing and has developed a master plan to ensure that community design supports wellness. In addition, Tampa has engaged community members in local efforts to tackle childhood obesity, expanded smoke-free multi-unit housing policies, and collaborated with small businesses to create a supportive environment for nursing moms. Although these efforts have produced signs of strong cross-sector partnerships and early success, additional surveillance, data and information gathering, analysis, and reporting will examine the extent to which these efforts and cross-sector partnerships can have a positive, long-term effect on health and well-being.

    The following questions provide opportunities for further exploration:

    • What key facilitators and barriers have been identified by cross-sector partnerships that focus on improving the built environment and preventing chronic disease?
    • How does the lack of publicly available chronic disease rates specific to Tampa affect city planning?
    • To what extent do Tampa’s neighborhood enhancement initiatives benefit low-income households versus wealthy households?
    • In what ways have improvements in public housing contributed to better access to transportation, grocery stores, retail, and other necessities?
    • In light of limited data, how is Tampa measuring the impact of completed and ongoing initiatives to improve the built environment and prevent/manage chronic disease?
    • Is there evidence that Tampa’s initiatives are improving the health and well-being of its residents? For instance, have tobacco use rates declined? How has local implementation of federal smoke-free regulations affected rates of exposure to secondhand smoke among public housing residents?
    • How is Tampa sustaining or expanding health and wellness initiatives, particularly during budgetary shortfalls?
  • Downloads

    Community Snapshot Report

    Community Portrait Report

    Community Landscape Report