Healthy Places Index Policy Guides

Where local leaders can build policy at the intersection of health, equity, and data. Use the Policy Action Guides to identify leading-edge and evidence-based policy interventions to meet the needs of the community tied to indicators in the Healthy Places Index. With the Policy Guides, the Policy Action Areas - such as Economic, Education, and Social - are ranked from highest to lowest in the order of their impact as social drivers of health. When using the policy action guides, consider ways to elevate residents' voices while crafting interventions to address the social drivers of health and create healthier community conditions.

Economic

Employed
Employed

Every household should be able afford the necessities of a healthy life—medical care, healthy food, quality housing, education, and other basics.  Stable employment provides people with the income necessary to buy these goods and services and maintain good health.

Per Capita Income
Per Capita Income

Every household should be able afford the necessities of a healthy life—medical care, healthy food, quality housing, education, and other basics. Sufficient income allows households reliable access to the goods and services that are necessary for a healthy life.

Above Poverty
Above Poverty

Every household should be able to afford the necessities of a healthy life—medical care, healthy food, quality housing, education, and other basics. Research indicates that economic opportunity is one the most powerful predictors of good health, and that impacts on health are especially pronounced for people in or near poverty.

Education

Preschool Enrollment
Preschool Enrollment

Every child should have the chance to learn, grow, and thrive. Early childhood is a crucial period for brain development, shaping nearly every aspect of one’s future health and wellbeing.

Bachelor's Education
Bachelor's Education

Everyone should have the opportunity to seek higher education and go to college if they choose. A college education is essential for many higher-paying careers, and it also helps people develop the cognitive skills and knowledge necessary to make healthy choices.

High School Enrollment
High School Enrollment

Every school-age youth should have educational opportunities that prepare them for higher education, a career and the future of their choice. Education is linked to increased life expectancy and reduced chronic disease rates, infant mortality and other negative health outcomes.

Social

Voting
Voting

Everyone should be able to contribute their voice to the political process and to participate in their communities. Voter participation is an indicator of both social power and social cohesion.

Census Response
Census Response

Everyone should be able to contribute their voice to the political process and to participate in their communities. Census participation is an indicator of both social power and social cohesion.

Transportation

Automobile Access
Automobile Access

Everybody should have safe, accessible and convenient transportation options to get to work and other destinations, especially if they do not own or have access to a car. Lack of access to a car should not limit people’s access to opportunities.

Active Commuting
Active Commuting

Everybody should have safe, accessible and convenient transportation options to get to work and other destinations. Active commuting by foot, bike and transit creates opportunities for physical activity, provides transportation options for those without a car, encourages social cohesion, and reduces contributions to climate change and air pollution.

Healthcare Access

Insured Adults
Insured Adults

Everybody should have access to medical care when they need it and to keep their bodies healthy with regular check-ups. Research indicates that health insurance dramatically improves health outcomes by allowing people to access necessary care.

Neighborhood

Retail Density
Retail Density

Everybody should have access to jobs, schools, shops and other essential goods and services which can impact one's health and quality of life. Living in a community with a mix of uses and destinations can improve health by reducing household costs, encouraging physical activity, reducing chronic diseases, improving mental health, fostering community connections and supporting community resilience to climate change and pollution.

Park Access
Park Access

Everybody should have access to parks and other open spaces near their home. Parks can encourage physical activity, reduce chronic diseases, improve mental health, foster community connections, and support community resilience to climate change and pollution.

Tree Canopy
Tree Canopy

Everybody should have trees and other plant life near their home. Trees are beneficial for mental and physical health in many ways.

Housing

Severely Cost Burdened Low-Income Renters
Severely Cost Burdened Low-Income Renters

All residents should be able to afford adequate housing without giving up healthy food, medical care, or other necessities, or accepting unsafe housing conditions. With budgets stretched to the breaking point, low-income renters also experience housing insecurity and are vulnerable to displacement from their homes and neighborhoods.

Severely Cost Burdened Low-Income Homeowners
Severely Cost Burdened Low-Income Homeowners

All residents should be able to afford adequate housing without giving up healthy food, medical care, or other necessities, or accepting unsafe housing conditions. When housing cost burdens are high, individuals and families must make difficult choices with limited options.

Housing Habitability
Housing Habitability

Everyone should be able to live in a safe and habitable home. Poor quality and unstable housing quality exposes residents to toxins, mold, pests and conditions that can trigger asthma and increase risks of injuries.

Uncrowded Housing
Uncrowded Housing

People should be able to live in housing with enough space for everyone living there. Uncrowded housing can improve mental health including stress and depression; decrease the spread of communicable diseases like tuberculosis; and improve children’s wellbeing and educational outcomes.

Homeownership
Homeownership

All residents should be able to afford adequate housing without giving up healthy food, medical care, or other necessities, or accepting unsafe housing conditions. Everyone should have the opportunity to build wealth over time by purchasing a home, which can protect against rising rents and promote social ties and neighborhood stability.

Clean Environment

Ozone
Ozone

Everyone should be able to live in neighborhoods where it is safe to breathe. When ozone levels in the air are high, it can cause lung inflammation and more serious respiratory issues.

Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)
Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)

Everyone should be able to live in neighborhoods where it is safe to breathe. Since fine particulate matter is so small, it can reach deep into people’s lungs leading adverse health outcomes.

Diesel Particulate Matter
Diesel Particulate Matter

Everyone should be able to live in neighborhoods where it is safe to breathe. Since diesel particulate matter is so small, it can reach deep into people’s lungs.

Safe Drinking Water
Safe Drinking Water

Everyone should have access to safe, affordable drinking water. Water is an essential human right needed for healthy outcomes.

Decision Support

Extreme Heat
Extreme Heat

Our homes, neighborhoods and jobs should help protect us from heat-related health impacts. When temperatures are extremely high, especially for extended periods, people can experience heat-related illnesses such as heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which if not promptly and properly treated can be fatal.

Impervious Surfaces
Impervious Surfaces

Our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces should help protect us from climate-related health threats, like heat waves and flooding. Impervious surfaces are materials that do not allow water to soak into the soil.

Outdoor Workers
Outdoor Workers

Every worker should be safe from heat-related health impacts and other workplace hazards. Working outdoors increases workers’ exposure to the extreme heat, poor air quality, diseases transmitted by ticks and mosquitos, industrial exposures, and injury.

Public Transit Access
Public Transit Access

Every person should be able to get to school, work, doctor and dentist appointments, and other destinations that provide essential goods and services. Transit access has been linked to improved physical and mental health, physical activity, employment outcomes, medical care, and resiliency during disasters.

Sea Level Rise
Sea Level Rise

We should all be able to live in homes and neighborhoods that are safe from sea level rise and flooding. Sea level rise can cause drowning, collisions, injuries, electrocutions, hypothermia, stress and other mental health conditions, food insecurity, unsafe drinking water, toxic releases, respiratory ailments, and displacement.

Two Parent Households
Two Parent Households

Every child, regardless of the size of their household, should have the economic, social and emotional support needed for a healthy life. Living in a home with two married or partnered adults or caregivers can help ensure that children grow up with the support and resources they need to be healthy.

Alcohol Availability
Alcohol Availability

Everyone should have access to goods and services in their community that can support a healthy lifestyle. When there is a high concentration of places that do not promote and support health, including liquor stores, bars, and restaurants that sell alcohol, it can adversely affect the health of people living in those communities.

Supermarket Access
Supermarket Access

Everyone should have access to healthy food options in their community. Having access to a nearby supermarket can encourage a healthier diet and eating behaviors, lower the costs of obtaining food, reduce chronic diseases, and lower the risk of food insecurity.

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