for projects in its metropolitan transportation plan,
and regions as diverse as Seattle, San Diego and Detroit
are working on similar efforts.
Larry Frank is a researcher whose firm, Urban Design 4
Health, has helped many jurisdictions quantify the impact
of planning and development decisions on health. While
he has seen communities make enormous strides in many
respects, he noted a disturbing trend. “I’m concerned we
are not helping the people who need it the most — the
poor. We bring good transit service to a neighborhood and
make it more walkable, then the values go up and people
get pushed out to areas where there’s poor transit and
it’s unsafe to walk. We are making places nicer and safer,
but they really aren’t helping the people who have the
chronic health problems.”
Bringing it all together: Seattle’s Yesler Terrace
Officials at the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) are
seeking to counter just those concerns with the ambitious redevelopment of Yesler Terrace, a 1940s-era public
housing project near downtown that was Seattle’s first.
In a prime location within striking distance of half the
jobs in surrounding King County and a commanding
view of Mt. Ranier, Yesler’s 561 subsidized units could
easily have given way to pricey condos. The SHA instead
is working to create a model, mixed-income community
on the 30-acre site, where 1,800 of the planned 5,000
housing units will be subsidized for low- and moderate-income residents and health is embedded throughout
the planning and design.
As SHA began planning the complex redevelopment,
officials noted a 2011 survey of residents in which fewer
than half described their health as “good” or “
excellent”, noted Tom Eanes, senior development program
manager for Yesler Terrace. They set about incorporating a wide range of measures to improve health, from
features promoting physical activity and healthy eating to using asthma-reducing construction and adding
community health workers and programs.
Seattle Housing Authority set
about incorporating a wide range
of measures to improve health.