Camden Health Element

Draft Health Element

The draft version of the Camden Health Element is the result of a multiyear effort to create a planning document that prioritizes health for all Camden residents as the city continues to grow and develop. With the Health Element, the City of Camden is embracing the opportunity to incorporate community health and well-being into the city’s Master Plan, and ultimately into the policies, programs, and spaces that make up the City of Camden. The Health Element describes the relationship between planning and public health, reviews current health conditions and social determinants, and proposes policies and actions to improve the environmental and social conditions for better health for all residents. It is organized across seven domains: Healthy Food Access, Clean Environment, Access to Healthcare, Mobility and Active Transportation, Safe and Complete Neighborhoods, Housing and Homelessness, and Education and Employment.

Draft Camden Health Element

Public Comment Instructions

Public comment is being sought on the proposed Health Element of the City of Camden Master Plan. We’re accepting comments from January 11, 2021 through April 8, 2021. 

To make a public comment, please email health@dvrpc.orgQuestions and comments must be submitted in writing. If you need assistance in providing a written comment, please contact the DVRPC Office of Communications and Engagement at 215-238-2929 or public_affairs@dvrpc.org. Responses will not be provided unless comments are submitted in writing during the public comment period.

Online Informational Meeting

To abide by stay-at-home orders and public health guidelines for public gatherings, a public meeting was held online on February 1, 2021 from 7 to 8:30pm. The meeting included a presentation of the Draft Camden Health Element, which has an overlapping public comment period. 

February 1, 2021
7pm to 8:30pm

Healthy Corner Store shoppers
Nutrition Education at a Healthy Corner Store. In 2011, Campbell Soup Company launched the Campbell Healthy Communities Initiative. As a part of this program, they’ve funded The Food Trust to expand their Healthy Corner Store Initiative to Camden. Source: The Food Trust
What is a Health Element?

As an Element of the City’s Master Plan, the Camden Health Element provides a high-level vision and concrete strategies to promote health as a priority for Camden’s future growth and development. The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) stipulates that all New Jersey municipalities are required to adopt a master plan and update it every 10 years. The MLUL authorizes municipalities to include optional elements that can enhance the master plan. Although health is not one of the elements specifically listed in the MLUL, the goals of a Health Element align with the primary intent of municipal master plans: to protect public health and safety and promote the general welfare. 

The Camden Health Element establishes a strong policy framework for developing conditions that will improve the physical health and emotional well-being of Camden residents. It provides goals, strategies, and actions to address how land use, development, services, and programs may support greater overall health, social equity, and environmental justice within Camden. The actions include amending ordinances and resolutions, as well as establishing and supporting programs aligned with the goals provided in the Element. The Health Element advances health in planning and development in Camden. Upon approval by the City of Camden Planning Board, it will have the same legal status as all other elements of the city’s Master Plan.

This project convened over 30 stakeholders and engaged the community at several neighborhood events to collaboratively develop a vision for a healthy Camden, identify areas of concern, and generate recommendations for improving public health through policy and planning-based tools.

HEALTH ELEMENT COMPONENTS AND TIMELINE

project timeline
Camden Health Element project timeline (click to expand)

READER'S GUIDE

The Element is organized by goals, strategies, and actions, which are defined below.

  • Goals: Broad or general outcomes to be achieved through implementation of the health element. Each goal is represented by a chapter.
  • Strategies: An approach taken to achieve a goal. In the Camden Health Element, the strategies follow the goal and precede the actions. Fulfilling a strategy will depend on available funding to implement the proposed programs.
  • Actions: Measurable steps taken and tools used to achieve a strategy. Residents and stakeholders helped to prioritize the actions within each goal based on the following criteria:
    • Greatest Impact
    • Most Achievable
    • Do First
    • People’s Choice
A Vision for a Healthy Camden

Camden will be a leading example of a healthy city, where residents are empowered and equipped to improve their well-being; where rates of chronic disease, including substance abuse, have reached their lowest levels in decades; and where cleaner air and water reflect strong stewardship of and commitment to a sustainable environment. Camden will be a city that values and invests in the health of its people and places. The City of Camden will work in partnership with the county, state, and a variety of stakeholders to provide high-quality public spaces, programs, and opportunities that will enable healthier lifestyles for all community members.

By embracing and leveraging its diverse population, existing neighborhood assets and amenities, and ongoing economic revitalization, Camden will become a community where residents have access to:

  • affordable and healthy food options throughout the city;
  • a healthy and sustainable natural environment;
  • comprehensive medical care, including effective prevention and treatment services for physical, mental, and substance abuse conditions;
  • an efficient and sustainable multimodal transportation system with safe and affordable options for all users;
  • safe and complete neighborhoods, where residents have access to community resources and feel safe pursuing healthy activities;
  • affordable, healthy, and safe housing for residents of all ages and income levels; and
  • educational and economic opportunities that offer the resources necessary to lead healthy lives.
Community Engagement

The Camden Health Element’s engagement strategy focused on providing many opportunities for community members, local organizations, and key stakeholders to participate in and contribute to the project’s planning process. The strategy included the following components.

COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS

In partnership with Campbell Soup Company, the project team hosted three community conversations in the spring of 2017 where they invited residents and stakeholders to share their thoughts on what it means to live a healthy life and how transportation can help everyone reach health-promoting locations. Almost 40 people attended one or more of the community conversations.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

To ensure that Camden residents had an opportunity to share their thoughts about what it means to be healthy in Camden, the project team participated in many public events over the course of the plan’s development, including Camden Night Gardens and Camden Jam. The project team spoke with almost 200 people at these events and participated in several others: 

  • Camden Night Gardens in May 2017 and May 2019, where they met with over 125 people combined. 
  • Camden Jam in September 2017, where they spoke with over 70 community members;
  • The Food Trust’s Pop-up Food Market at Whittier Middle School in June 2018, where they met with over 50 community members; 
  • Cooper’s Poynt Family School Youth Impact Fair in March 2019, where they spoke to about 100 students and faculty members; and
  • The Food Trust’s Pop-up Food Market at Whittier Middle School in April 2019, where they met with over 50 families.

ROADSHOWS

The project team also offered to meet with local organizations about the Health Element. Between March and June 2018, the team conducted four roadshow presentations, bringing a brief presentation and discussion to groups throughout Camden. These events provided an overview of the health element, reviewed existing conditions data, presented the Camden Health Element Story Map, and collected feedback on a vision for a healthy Camden. 

ADVISORY COMMITTEE

DVRPC convened an Advisory Committee to help guide the development of the Health Element. Approximately 30 individuals representing 20 different organizations participated. The Advisory Committee met two times in 2018 to review project milestones, develop a vision statement, and prioritize strategies and actions. The Advisory Committee was engaged virtually thereafter to refine the actions to be included within the Health Element and to review the final version of the document before it was presented to the Camden Planning Board.

October 23, 2018

March 6, 2018

ONLINE ENGAGEMENT

The project team developed a variety of web-based tools to inform community members and stakeholders of plan updates and findings and to collect feedback throughout the process. One of these tools is the Camden Health Element Story Map, which documents and displays the current status of health outcomes and social and environmental factors that contribute to health across the city. More information can be found in the Existing Conditions section below.

The team also developed an online survey to collect feedback on proposed actions, which was distributed electronically through the Advisory Committee and other partners, linked through the project webpage, and advertised on social media. In addition, the project team distributed flyers through partner groups, at Planning Board’s April 2019 meeting, and at City Hall and a local branch of the Camden County Library.

DVRPC outreach activity at Camden Jam
Planning in Dual Pandemics

Although the Health Element was largely completed when the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, the planning team did not wish to publish the Health Element without acknowledging the effects of COVID-19 on both the City of Camden and the recommendations put forth in the Health Element. The pandemic and related economic recession have created a lot of uncertainty, and in some ways, drastically changed how people live—how we socialize, work, get around, and obtain necessary goods and services. COVID-19 has also highlighted and exacerbated existing patterns of racism, bias, and health disparities. It is more important than ever that stakeholders—the city, county, state, non-profits, health care providers, community organizations, and residents—work to implement the actions detailed in this document to address the most pressing health disparities and economic challenges that COVID-19 has brought about.

Additionally, the project team acknowledges the power and impact of the anti-racist movement and protests that occurred throughout 2020. The discrimination, biases, and barriers that people of color face in obtaining housing, jobs, health care, or basic amenities have persisted across generations. As Camden stakeholders work to implement the recommendations in the Health Element, it is essential to empower communities, repair inequities, and eliminate disparities in a system that has historically excluded people of color from resources and opportunities.

Existing Conditions

The existing conditions analysis for the Camden Health Element was formatted as a GIS Story Map. This tool compiles and displays data for the City of Camden across five categories: Demographics, Community Health, Environmental Health, Housing, and Land Use, Transportation, and Mobility. It provides a snapshot for Camden that helped highlight the city’s strengths and allow the project team to determine where to focus research and recommendations. DVRPC staff collected and analyzed data on diverse topics including:

  • Demographic (Age, Income, Educational Attainment, and Race);
  • Community Health (Asthma, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, Mental Health, and Health Insurance);
  • Environmental Health (Air Quality, Childhood Lead Poisoning, Flooding, Healthy Food Access, Known Contaminated Sites, and Park Access);
  • Housing (Housing Type, Housing Stability, Substandard Housing, and Access to Community Facilities); and
  • Land Use, Transportation, and Mobility (Land Use, Walkability, Employment Density, Mode of Travel, Zero-Vehicle Households, Traffic Safety, and Commute Time).

The results of the existing conditions analysis and the interactive map can be found here:  

Camden Health Element Story Map

Project Contact

Email health@dvrpc.org to contact the project manager for the Camden Health Element.