Turning great ideas into healthier communities


Partners for Public Health: Working with Local, State, and Federal Agencies to Create Healthier Communities

2010 | Download

The way our neighborhoods are designed has a profound impact on our health and wellbeing. A physical environment that promotes health—with affordable quality housing, access to healthy foods and physical activity, clean air, parks and recreation facilities, transportation options, and safe schools—is integral to achieving health equity and ensuring a high quality of life.

Our neighborhoods are shaped by policies developed and implemented by a variety of public agencies. This guide is intended to provide information to public health department staff and advocates about the many public agencies that make policy decisions and implement projects related to the physical environment.

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Each section of this guide includes information about the way particular agencies are structured, their decision-making processes, and oversight and accountability at four levels: local, regional, state, and federal.

The guide gives local and regional examples in the San Francisco Bay Area, and state information based on California law and experience. Other states and localities can apply this general framework to their own agencies and decisionmaking processes.

The information in this guide is organized according to major categories of public services related to the physical environment, including air quality, housing, land use, public utilities, redevelopment, and transportation.

The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) and Public Health Law & Policy (PHLP) work to create resources to help local health departments engage in planning processes and establish policies that create healthier environments and advance health equity. BARHII is a program of the Public Health Institute.