Bringing Public Health into Urban Revitalization: Workshop Summary


Note: Proceedings contain the opinion of the presenters, but do NOT reflect the conclusions of the Health and Medicine Division or the National Academies. Learn more about the differences between Reports and Proceedings.

On November 10, 2014, the Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine held a workshop titled Bringing Public Health into Urban Revitalization. This workshop represents the Roundtable members’ long-standing interest in and growing appreciation of the ways in which the urban environment, conceived broadly from factors such as air quality and walkability to factors such as access to fresh foods and social support systems, can affect health. A valuable opportunity to improve public health arises when an urban area is being redesigned and rebuilt following some type of serious disruption, whether it is caused by a sudden physical event, such as a hurricane or earthquake, or steady economic and social decline that may have occurred over decades. The purpose of the workshop was to explore the various opportunities to reimagine the built environment in a city and to increase the role of health promotion and protection during the process of urban revitalization. The workshop focused on case studies from three U.S. cities: Washington, DC; Detroit, Michigan; and New York City. Each of these urban areas recently engaged in rebuilding and revitalization efforts, the impetus for which was unique to the specific city. These three cities face not only similar but also different challenges, and the rebuilding and revitalization efforts are in different stages of implementation. By examining and comparing the role of public health in these different revitalization efforts, it is possible to gain a broad sense of where the various challenges and opportunities lie in this area. The following is a summary and synthesis of the presentations and discussions that took place during the workshop.