Partnerships Among Community Development, Public Health, and Health Care Could Improve the Well-Being of Low-Income People

Safe, vibrant neighborhoods are vital to health. The community development “industry”—a network of nonprofit service providers, real estate developers, financial institutions, foundations, and government—draws on public subsidies and other financing to transform impoverished neighborhoods into better-functioning communities.

Although such activity positively affects the “upstream” causes of poor health, the community development industry rarely collaborates with the health sector or even considers health effects in its work. Examples of initiatives—such as the creation of affordable housing that avoids nursing home placement—suggest a strong potential for cross-sector collaborations to reduce health disparities and slow the growth of health care spending, while at the same time improving economic and social well-being in America’s most disadvantaged communities.

We propose a four-point plan to help ensure that these collaborations achieve positive outcomes and sustainable progress for residents and investors alike.