In 2016 the Georgia Health Policy Center conducted a health impact assessment (HIA) on behalf of the Georgia Department of Public Health examining health implications of new affordable housing policy on three specific development sites in the state.
This HIA assessed project-level impacts of recommendations made in GHPC’s previous HIA of Georgia’s 2015 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) for low-income housing tax credits. The follow-up HIA assessed the health effects of final design and operation plans for three affordable housing projects (located in Jackson, Telfair, and Floyd counties) that received tax credits through the 2015 QAP.
Data on baseline health status were collected in four areas — chronic disease, health care access, injury prevention, and mental health. These indicators were selected, in part, because they can be tracked over time as housing developments are put into service.
Results helped housing developers consider how their siting, design, and operational decisions could be more supportive of community health. Additionally, the HIA findings led to changes to state-level affordable housing policy.
Key findings were reported in the areas of siting, design, and operational decisions
- Siting includes whether a design is mixed use, its transportation context, local educational opportunity, and other community characteristics. While siting decisions for these projects were made prior to release of the 2015 QAP, assessment shows incorporating siting in the QAP remains a solid strategy to ensure housing developments are tuned to underlying health determinants for the communities in which they locate.
- Design includes internal and external amenities, building materials, active transportation access, trees, and unit design measures. Similar to siting decisions, public health perspectives of design need to be incorporated earlier in the process. However, there were some small successes noted in this HIA, such as incorporating a community garden amenity in one development.
- Operational decisions are the most adaptable element post-QAP proposal for developers. Developers can alter planned services and programming much more easily than the physical design or site of the housing. Providing developers data on the health concerns of the surrounding community or the potential tenant population allows them to more finely tailor service offerings to the needs of residents.
To read the full HIA, please click here.