Arizona Alliance for Livable Communities
Arizona Alliance for Livable Communities
September 2017 Newsletter


Many of you that attended our Health Impact Assessment and/or Healthy Community Design training over the years learned about the HIA process and how it can be a valuable tool for bringing together stakeholders and communities to advocate for equitable, healthy, data-informed policies, plans and projects.

This month, we keep our commitment to continue to share valuable, up-to-date HIA resources and updates from Arizona and beyond, with a special focus on how HIA can be used by planning professionals to enrich their important work.


Health impact assessments (HIAs) can offer local and national policymakers a useful framework for engaging and responding to the needs of communities affected by agriculture, food, and nutrition decisions, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering.

“Over the past twenty years, health impact assessments have helped to support decision-making in an array of sectors including housing, planning, education, and criminal justice, but we found that they’re not often used in projects related to food,” said Krycia Cowling, MPH, lead author of the study and a CLF-Lerner Fellow. “By not using these assessments, policymakers may be missing out on opportunities to hear community perspectives and better understand the potential effects of an initiative on the diet and health of the communities they are trying to serve.”

According to the study, of the HIAs completed in the United States before June 2016, only 25 of the total 400 (or around 6%) focused on agriculture, food, and nutrition topics. Of the 25 HIAs, 40% focused on agriculture, 44% on food access and availability, and 16% on nutrition.

Planners can help jurisdictions anticipate, design, and implement spaces where people live, work, and play in a manner that reduces air pollution, encourages physical activity, provides access to essential services, and preserves green space, all of which are important to health. Additionally, planners can help ensure that health is a priority in decision-making across a range of sectors, because they often work in multidisciplinary teams with other specialists, such as engineers; architects; landscape architects; real estate developers; and transportation, law enforcement, housing, and economic development professionals. In a joint effort by the Health Impact Project and the American Planning Association titled How Health Impact Assessment can Inform Planning to Promote Public Health, the basics of HIA are covered and opportunities for collaboration among planners and public health professionals are shared.

Between 2004 and 2014, 134 HIAs were conducted in the United States on decisions that meet this report’s definition of "planning", representing more than a third of the total HIAs conducted or in progress in the country during that time. The State of Health Impact Assessment in Planning is the first to analyze these HIAs and the use of HIAs within planning practice.

The third and final component of a series of products that comprise the American Planning Association HIA and Planning Project is the Health Impact Assessment Toolkit for PlannersThe toolkit provides guidance for communicating about HIA with other planning professionals, partner organizations, and decision makers. It also provides guidance for planners on how to move from “considering an HIA” to “conducting an HIA” within the context of the community and plan, project, or policy that the HIA will assess.


San Tan Valley Special Area Plan HIA - Pinal County
Planning HIAs are happening here in our backyard. Pinal County is currently in the process of developing a Special Area Plan that will help guide future growth within the rapidly expanding San Tan Valley area. In tandem with Pinal County’s planning efforts for this 70 square mile area, Pinal County’s Public Health Services District and their consultant Michael Baker International is utilizing the Rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) model to apply a Health (in all policies) Program Initiative.

Since many Rapid HIA’s tend to be applied after a policy or plan has been developed, but before it has been implemented, this collaboration seeks to directly integrate health into the conceptual planning phase and policy-making process rather than being external or responsive to the overall Special Area Plan effort. The ultimate focus of this HIA will be to incorporate into the Special Area Plan, healthy strategies and policies that encourage and/or increase physical activity within the defined San Tan Valley project area.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative HIA – Phoenix
The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) is a grant from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to transform distressed neighborhoods and public housing into mixed-income neighborhoods linking housing improvements with appropriate services, schools, public assets, transportation, and access to jobs.​  
The City of Phoenix received a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant to develop transformation plan for the Edison and Eastlake community. Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Phoenix, with support from Vitalyst Health Foundation, is investing in a Health Impact Assessment to identify ways to improve the health equity and wellbeing of current and future residents living in Choice Neighborhoods target area. Working closely with residents, the HIA is focused on five key health areas: social cohesion, community safety, active living, healthy and affordable food, and environmental challenges. The final HIA report is expected to be published in October 2017. For more information, please contact

Maryland Food Councils Story Maps
Maryland Food Councils Story Maps show examples of food policy in Maryland. Each tab features a story for one of Maryland's food councils and highlights policy hurdles and triumphs across food systems sectors. Stories came from interviews with council members, conversations with partners, and information from food council websites.

Maryland's eight food councils work at the city, county or regional level on topics ranging from tax credits for food donations from local farmers to county-wide food security plans. Explore the map by clicking on a county or region for more information about each food council.

Photovoice as a Tool for Community Engagement
 The Photovoice medium, which some refer to as a form of “citizen science,” is an emerging tool being put to good use by food policy councils, government agencies and, most importantly, citizens around the globe. By using the power of photography, community members observe and document the specific food system dynamics in their own neighborhoods. Discussion groups review and reflect upon the photograph, and sometimes the previously unheard “voices” that are channeled through the photographs direct and inspire new policies and goals.


Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health
American Public Health Association
November 4–8, 2017
Atlanta, Georgia

AARP's 5th Annual Livable Communities National Conference
Nov. 14-16, 2017
Dallas, Texas
Call for Sessions Due by August 14

New Partners for Smart Growth Conference
February 1-3, 2018
San Francisco, California

2018 Main Street America Now Conference
March 26-28
Kansas City, Missouri


September 14 – "Careers in Food Systems Planning,"
APA's next Career Reality Webinar. (free; registration required) CM | 1.25 


2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize
Deadline: Friday, Nov. 3, 2017

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Prize (the Prize) recognizes communities that have placed a priority on health and are creating powerful partnerships and deep commitments that will enable everyone, especially those facing the greatest barriers to good health, the opportunity to live well. A Culture of Health recognizes that health and well-being are greatly influenced by where we live, learn, work, and play; the safety of our surroundings; and the relationships we have in our families and communities. The Prize elevates the compelling stories of local leaders and community members who together are transforming neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and more—so that better health flourishes everywhere.

More information: Available Here

FY 2017 Economic Development Assistance Programs
Deadline: Open

EDA solicits applications from applicants in rural and urban areas to provide investments that support construction, non-construction and technical assistance. Grants and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage existing regional  assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies that advance new ideas and creative approaches to advance economic prosperity in distressed communities.
More information: Available here

Evidence for Action: Investigator-Initiated Research to Build a Culture of Health
Deadline: Open

Evidence for Action (E4A), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, funds research that expands the evidence base needed to build a Culture of Health. Our mission is to support rigorously designed quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research that yields convincing findings regarding the population health, well-being, and equity impacts of specific policies, programs and partnerships. We are especially interested in research examining the health impacts of programmatic or policy interventions that address factors outside the domain of health care services or public health practice.
More information: Available here
AALC Events

Wed., Sept. 13 -
Monthly Meeting

Maricopa County Department of Public Health  - 9:00 - 10:30am

Dial-in #: (605) 472-5814
Access Code: 383-185-253

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