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.

Community Actions: A First Look

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.

Going Forward: Questions for Consideration

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?