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LPHI Uses 500 Cities Health Data to Advocate for Transportation Accessibility

Accumulating evidence shows that where people live, work, learn, and play has an impact on their health. Because of this, public health experts continually work to identify social determinants and craft solutions to factors that adversely affect health outcomes in our neighborhoods and communities at large.

Funded through a partnership between the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the 500 Cities Data Challenge project provided data capacity to nonprofit leaders and government officials, allowing us to illustrate the benefits of utilizing community health data to address social factors, such as informing policy investments in transportation and economic opportunity. By using census tract data, decision makers have the ability to explore issues and trends often masked at the parish level and determine specific areas where services and resources are most needed.

As a grantee, we collaborated with Bike Easy, the American Heart Association, and others to advocate for Complete Streets and contribute to the evidence base for municipal planning policies that promote mobility and increased transportation access for New Orleans, Kenner, and the larger region.

We used the 500 Cities data, along with complimentary data sources, to construct a preliminary overview of health and economic metrics, relating specifically to transportation, mobility access, and economic development in Jefferson Parish, including the cities of Kenner and Terrytown. The analysis has since been used to engage city officials and coalitions on data-driven approaches that integrate a health equity perspective into transportation policy.

In the analysis of 500 Cities health outcomes, we found that the census tracts with higher prevalence of poor health outcomes also tended to be the tracts with lower household incomes, less access to vehicles, and higher housing burdens (i.e., spending 30 percent of monthly income or more on housing). Therefore, we advocate that better connecting these neighborhoods (e.g., via sidewalks, transit stops, and protected bike lanes) to areas in the region that are better resourced or closer to job centers could offer residents more than just health benefits. The full project overview can be found here.