A conference in quotes: ULI's Healthy Housing, Healthy Places - Metropolitan Planning Council

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A conference in quotes: ULI's Healthy Housing, Healthy Places

terratrekking via Flickr

Denver's FasTracks program is a multi-billion dollar comprehensive transit expansion plan that is attracting significant transit-oriented development and will build 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail, and 18 miles of bus rapid transit.

Last week I spent some time in Denver learning about the intersection between healthy housing and healthy places. Thanks to the masterminds at the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing, I experienced first-hand several mixed-income developments along Denver's 122-mile FasTracks light rail line that is helping to make Denver one of the nation's fastest growing cities.  

I was delighted for the opportunity to present at the conference about how our Corridor Development Initiative (currently in Uptown) is working to create equitable, transit-oriented development across the city of Chicago. What does this have to do with health? We know that when people are within a half-mile of transit, they walk more in general; in fact, a 2011 Active Living Research study found that walking to and from public transit satisfies the daily physical activity recommendation for 29 percent of transit users. In addition, our Corridor Development Initiative work gets at our equity agenda: Walkable communities are generally significantly more expensive than those with less density (and thus not an option for many), and people who live in low-income communities have many fewer options for walking and recreation. Creating affordable housing in strong markets near transit helps to mitigate these health inequities.

The great thing about a good conference is how much you learn. So let's cut to the chase with my favorite quotes. Here goes:

The “Better Block” project is a demonstration tool that acts as a living charrette so that communities can actively engage in the buildout process and provide feedback in real time.

Rocking in Picton Street by dru via Flickr

Ever seen a vacant, fenced-in school playground and wondered how it could be put to wider use? ChangeLab Solutions did too, and now they foster shared use agreements between schools and communities all over the country.

Dave Johnson via Flickr

Dr. Sandel gave a brilliant talk. She reminded us that we don't vaccinate for chicken pox because it is a deadly disease. It's because for every child who gets it, a parent loses 5 days of work. It is, essentially, a productivity vaccine. In the same way, quality, affordable housing allows its residents to be healthy and productive members of their community.

Sanofi Pasteur via Flickr

WalkDenver partners with Better Block to do low-cost demonstration projects around Denver.

Bobby P. via Flickr

Formerly an industrial neighborhood of Denver, this "River North" (thus Rino) area gave itself what was at first an aspirational name: River North Art District. The area is now "a remarkable concentration of creative businesses, including architects, art galleries, ceramicists, designers, furniture makers, illustrators, authors, wineries, small-batch breweries, distilleries, urban agriculture, painters, media artists, performance artists, sculptors, photographers, and an array of studio spaces."

Kim Owens via Flickr

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