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August 4, 2016 1:45 PMCategory: Nutrition, Physical Activity

Rapid Health Impact Assessments in Massachusetts

This post was written by Karen Adelman and originally featured on Planning 101: Talking smart growth for 101 communities in Greater Boston.

MAPC’s Public Health Department has been conducting Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) for the past five years. Working with partners like the MA Department of Public Health and Health Resources in Action, MAPC has explored multiple topics through HIA, including public transit, speed limits, housing and mixed-use developments, land use zoning, school building, and funding for community development.

MAPC has also looked to explore other topic areas through HIA. Most recently, the Public Health team, in partnership Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), reached out to community based organizations about potential changes related to social or economic justice that could benefit from an HIA. Two topics were identified this past Spring through the outreach and discussions: a proposed state law to expunge the juvenile criminal records and a city ordinance in Boston that would prevent evictions except for a “just cause.” MAPC and MIT had the chance to work with a group of graduate planning students and two community organizations – Lowell-based UTEC and Boston-based City Life/Vida Urbana – to explore these topics using HIA. Michael Blanding, one of the participants of this discussion, presented their conclusions in the MIT News article titled Assessing health impacts of policies and plans.

The report for one of these HIAs is now available. Please follow this link to learn more about the Rapid HIA of Massachusetts Bill S.900, which proposes to expunge juvenile criminal records throughout the state. By the early fall, the second HIA report will be released to share findings related to health effects of potential changes to eviction policy in the City of Boston.

Below, photo of community based organizations early in the HIA process. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, January 2016.

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Read more about APA’s work on HIA’s here.