The Urban Land Institute Arizona District Council (ULI Arizona) was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from global ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to convene a local task force to study the intersection of health and housing in Arizona.
A key feature that made ULI Arizona’s application stand out is the financial commitment and strong partnership with Vitalyst Health Foundation, which contributed an additional $10,000.
ULI Arizona is one of four ULI District Councils (Arizona, Chicago, Sacramento and Tampa Bay) selected to explore land use and transportation barriers to healthy places and identify sustainable and equitable solutions.
“Lack of affordable housing is responsible for some of the most damaging health effects to individuals and families,” says Heidi Kimball, Senior Vice President, Sunbelt Holdings, and incoming Chair, ULI Arizona. “No one entity alone will be able to solve the growing affordability and equity challenges facing our communities. This grant will help us work with development industry, public sector and nonprofit leaders to explore new equitable models and approaches supporting healthy living and affordable housing.”
ULI Arizona and Vitalyst Health Foundation will work closely together and with other community partners (Maricopa Association of Governments, City of Tempe, ASU Stardust Center Affordable Homes and the Family, LISC Phoenix, and others) to examine how the lack of affordable housing in core urban areas exacerbates health inequities and how to shift policies and practices to help more people be healthier and live well in quality housing connected to essential services.
In Metro Phoenix, the gap between what residents earn and housing costs is widening, especially along transit corridors, pricing out the people who benefit the most from living near public transportation options.
C.J. Eisenbarth Hager, Director of Healthy Community Policies for Vitalyst Health Foundation, will co-chair the task force with housing expert Silvia Urrutia, Managing Partner, U Developing, LLC. Hager explains that health is inextricably tied to where people live.
“When you look at life expectancy by ZIP code across the Valley, you see short distances can reveal significant gaps in health,” Hager said. “Children born in the City of Scottsdale can expect to see their 85th birthday, whereas in South Phoenix, people are likely to only reach their 71st. As seen in other communities, ZIP codes can be more important indicators of health than people’s genetic code.”
Working over the course of a year and a half in collaboration with ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative experts and the other awarded District Councils, the task force will develop local action and outreach plans and document a synthesis of best practices that will be shared with communities throughout the region and nationally.