Health is more than healthcare. Health is shaped by the places where we live, learn, work and play.

Improving conditions in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities will create greater opportunities for people to lead healthy lives.

The Healthy Communities Initiative fosters collaboration between the health and community development sectors. Recognizing that economic, social and physical environments have huge implications for our opportunity to be healthy, the Initiative strives to strengthen partnerships between those who work to improve neighborhood conditions and those who focus on improving health outcomes over the life course.

Watch What Really Makes Us Healthy? Health beyond Healthcare for an overview of the intersection between community development and health.

The Federal Reserve System and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created the Healthy Communities initiative to bring together New Resources, New Partners, and New Ideas, in order to move the health and community development sectors together towards a healthier future.

New Resources. As conventional health funders begin to understand the strong relationship between physical environments and health outcomes, there are many new potential partnerships between health-oriented foundations and new government programs. Harmonizing these new funding streams with the traditional community development programs—such as investment and lending motivated by the Community Reinvestment Act, New Markets Tax Credits, and Low Income Housing Tax Credits—will be both a challenge and an opportunity. Innovating new directions with existing funds will be equally challenging, requiring creative energy from both fields.

New Partners. The important work of the housing and community development sector could be much more effective when joined with other partners (e.g. early care and education programs and nutrition programs). Success requires sharing of knowledge between many sectors, with health and community development being the most immediately promising.

New Ideas. The health sector has a much more sophisticated approach to data collection and outcomes measurement. Community development could learn much in this area. Similarly, as the health sector tries to improve nutrition and recreation opportunities in low-income neighborhoods, it can learn from the sophisticated and networked approach community development uses to implement its programs.


Mental Health and Community Development: Community Development Innovation Review – Volume 13, Issue 1

This issue of the Community Development Innovation Review is dedicated to the topic of mental health and community development. It advances the healthy communities conversation by explicitly recognizing the relationship between mental health and physical health as well as the role social factors play in both aspects of overall wellbeing. There are profound connections between poverty, place, and poor mental health. Issues like financial insecurity, housing instability, community violence, and limited economic prospects are risk factors for poor mental health—they are also the very same issues that community development seeks to address.

Q&A: Community Development and Health

David Erickson, John Moon, and Bina Shrimali answer questions on Quora to highlight the profound intersections between community development and health.

Redlining and Mental Health: Connecting the Dots Across Poverty, Place, and Exclusion

In this Medium post, Laura Choi explores how poverty, and in particular the repeated experience of social exclusion and vulnerability that too often accompanies intergenerational poverty, has serious mental health implications.

Meeting People Where They Really Are

David Erickson, Director of Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, builds the case for a market that values health at the Mayo Clinic’s 2018 Transform conference.

Deep Dive: Portrait of a Healthy Community

David Erickson, Director of Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, presents at the Aspen Ideas Festival alongside other experts on the characteristics of—and contributing factors to—a healthy community.

Health and Community Development: Community Development Investment Review – Volume 5, Issue 3

Can community development finance help “bend the cost curve” for health care? The reality is that people who live in supportive, connected, and economically-thriving communities tend to be healthier. Perhaps the most important contribution that community development finance provides is the larger contribution of a more vibrant and healthier community.

Health and Wealth Inequities across Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Stations

Inspired by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s City Maps, we wanted to see how income and health disparities looked in the Bay Area, relying on BART stations as our geographic markers.

CDFIs and Nail Salons: A Partnership to Improve the Health of Low-Income Workers

Learn about a partnership that explores the role of community development finance in improving the health of low-income nail salon workers.

Creating the Market that Values Health

David J. Erickson, Director of Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, presents at the 2016 Housing + Health Summit.

Economic Opportunity + a National Culture of Health: Did You Miss a Game-changer?

If you missed the speeches that closed out the 2016 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference (NICRC) in Los Angeles, then yes, you missed a game changer.

Community Development Interview Series: S. Leonard Syme

David J. Erickson, Director of Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, interviews S. Leonard Syme, Professor Emeritus at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, on the social determinants of health. is a web portal to community development resources from all 12 Federal Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors. Through a single web gateway, users can access hundreds of Fed materials that address barriers to economic growth and promote fair and informed access to financial markets.

More Healthy Communities Resources