Healthy Community Planning encompasses a broach range of issues—from air quality to food access, from safety to open space, from walkability to transit access—that can impact an individual's well-being. Although much of DVRPC's work already focuses on these topics, healthy communities planning brings an additional awareness that the decisions we make regarding the built and natural environments impact public health, community health and individual health outcomes.
In recent years, Camden City has seen a renewed focus on supporting healthy living and greater community wellbeing. Many individuals and organizations—from city government to large corporations to nonprofits—are striving to change policies, places, and behaviors to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be healthy. DVRPC, with the support of both the DVRPC Board and the Campbell Soup Company, has been fortunate to be a part of these efforts. The Commission has undertaken a number of projects with the goal of improving the health outcomes and increase livability in Camden.
The food system planning team studies the regional food system that supplies food to people across Greater Philadelphia. The team works with stakeholders to build on the many agricultural, transportation/distribution, retail, and community assets in order to address the diverse challenges that face our food system.
DVRPC's Healthy Communities Task Force meets on a regular basis to discuss the intersection of public health and planning. The Task Force also identifies opportunities for partnership and collaboration.
In December 2014, DVRPC was selected as one of five agencies across the country to test FHWA's "Health in Transportation Corridor Planning Framework." DVRPC will conduct a modified corridor study of Haddon Avenue in Camden, New Jersey using the FHWA framework. DVRPC selected Haddon Avenue as the proposed test corridor based on previous planning efforts, including the Camden Food Economy Strategy, and the connection between two large hospitals on either end of the corridor. Goals for the beta test project include identifying new stakeholders and partners; developing internal capacity to include public health issues in transportation planning projects, and incorporating lessons learned into the update of the Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan.
The Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), a nonprofit institute for public health, surveys 10,000 households about every two years to determine and track indicators for health. DVRPC acquired data from their 2010 survey, and selected four health-related indicators—overweight/obesity, asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure—to review based on their relationships to behaviors partially dictated by development patterns and availability of transportation choices. Maps and narrative summaries are available. Analysis is incorporates into the Community Investment Index.
In the DVRPC region, population is forecasted to increase by 11% between 2010 and 2040, while those over age 65 will increase by 58%. The City of Philadelphia has the largest number of those over age 60 (276,000 people) of the ten largest cities in the United States (2010), and this is expected to double by 2035. In response, DVRPC seeks to address ways that planners and policymakers can make places better for aging, specifically around transportation, housing, and public spaces.