Healthy Neighborhoods

En Español

We know that where we live – where we eat, sleep, work, play, learn and pray – can have a huge effect on our health. But what makes a neighborhood healthy? Having safe places to live, without hazards or pollution. Having safe ways for everyone to be active, like sidewalks, and safe places to bike. Having easy access to fresh, affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food. When our neighborhoods are healthy, we have the building blocks for healthy lives.

Who can make our neighborhoods healthier?


Plant trees. Green spaces have been shown to reduce your risk of death. They also help to protect from rising heat, reduce pollution and offer nice space for people to connect with each other. If you don’t have a yard to plant in, work with a local organization that plants trees in public spaces.

Get to know your neighbors. Social cohesion means you’re connected with the people who live near you. Feeling connected to each other is an investment in your community. It’s also great for kids to have adults who care about them.


Get moving with your community. People who live in rural communities often don’t have sidewalks or other safe places to walk or run. Community walking groups can make getting exercise a safer and fun activity.

Bring healthy, fresh food where people are. If there aren’t nearby stores where people can easily purchase healthy foods, open farmers markets and allow people to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children benefits there. Or bring fresh fruits and vegetables directly to people, as one program in Baltimore is doing. 


Make broadband internet available more widely. High-speed internet is necessary for today’s world. Kids with better internet access at home have better academic outcomes. And may health providers require patients have internet to access their digital health records. But it’s not available for many people, particularly in lower income and rural communities.

Invest in public transportation. When public transportation isn’t available or reliable, more people depend on cars. Making public transportation available, affordable, reliable and easy to use cuts down on pollution and traffic, and reduces the risk for traffic crashes – making other transportation options, like biking, safer too.


Get rid of lead in homes and public buildings. Federal lead remediation programs can help remove lead pipes across the country. The federal government estimates there are 6 to 10 million lead service lines across the country, mostly affecting low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Removing lead pipes protects everyone’s health, especially children. 

Set limits on pollution to protect vulnerable populations. The biggest polluters are often located near low-income communities and communities of color. Federal policymakers can enact laws that limit the amount of pollution being produced. Improving air quality will protect health in those communities and across the country. 

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American Public Health Association