The Detroit URC: fostering health equity through 
community-based participatory research (CBPR)
for more than 20 years

The Detroit Urban Research Center Highlights Health in Decisions about Detroit's Future

DETROIT, MICHIGAN (5/6/2013) - The Detroit Urban Research Center (Detroit URC) is one of eight groups nationally that recently received a grant from a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, to conduct a health impact assessment (HIA). The Detroit HIA will look at how the Detroit Future City (DFC) strategic framework may affect the health of people living in Detroit, and recommend ways to protect health. Healthy Neighborhoods for a Healthy Detroit (D-HIA) will highlight health in decisions regarding how city services and infrastructure are maintained.

HIAs help identify and make recommendations regarding the health benefits and risks of decisions made outside the health sector. D-HIA will focus on selected aspects of the DFC strategic framework, which will contribute to short- and long-term development plans in the City of Detroit.

A key strategy of the DFC is to redistribute city service and infrastructure investments-such as street lighting, waste, roads, and blight reduction-toward more populated parts of the city. Greater investments in areas that are more populated may stabilize neighborhoods and improve safety; however moving resources away from less populated neighborhoods may increase health risks for residents living there and contribute to health inequities.

Over the next year, D-HIA will look closely at the plan's potential impact on health outcomes such as heart disease, violence, and asthma through changes in neighborhood stability, social support, housing, environmental conditions, and safety. HIA will focus on the impact to the nearly 90,000 people living in high vacancy areas.

"D-HIA will bring specific health data into the implementation process and benchmark health in high vacancy neighborhoods as well as other areas of the city," says Kurt Metzger, Director of Data Driven Detroit and member of the D-HIA Steering Committee. "This will allow the city and others to track changes in health outcomes as implementation efforts are carried out."

D-HIA will work with a broad range of groups to recommend ways to protect and improve health of Detroiters. D-HIA will be implemented by a diverse team of community and academic partners that includes: 

  • Data Driven Detroit
  • Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
  • Detroit Neighborhood Partnership East, Warren/Conner Development Coalition
  • Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice
  • Green Door Initiative
  • Institute for Population Health
  • University of Michigan School of Public Health and Urban and Regional Planning Program
  • Ben Cave Associates Ltd.

"This HIA will ensure that the health of the community and the voice of the community are taken into consideration as the DFC Strategic Framework is implemented," says Angie Reyes, MPH, Founder and Executive Director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation and founding member of the Detroit URC and the D-HIA Steering Committee.

Another important aim is to strengthen relationships between different sectors, for example residents, city planners, and academic institutions, and to build capacity for including health in future decision-making for Detroit.
"Health and well-being are central to all our ideas about prosperity and sustainability. The D-HIA will bring this focus on health and well-being to the DFC implementation process," says Ben Cave, Founder of Ben Cave Associates Ltd. "It is an ambitious and exciting project that will start to raise the profile of health and well-being in Detroit, and will contribute to the future development of the city."

D-HIA is made possible by a grant from the Health Impact Project, which is dedicated to promoting the use of health impact assessment in the United States, and by a grant from the University of Michigan Center for Advancing Research and Solutions for Society (CARRS).  More information about D-HIA is available on our webpage. View a searchable map of HIAs in the United States. To learn more about the eight newly funded projects read the nationalpress release.

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The Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center
University of Michigan School of Public Health (U-M SPH)
1415 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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