Understanding the Impact of Active Design in Affordable Housing: Insights for Policymakers and Developers

Publication date: 
January, 2017
New York State Health Foundation

This NYSHealth-funded policy brief by Center for Active Design highlights opportunities for using Active Design strategies on affordable housing design to increase the physical activity of residents and improve their health. 

Active Design is an evidence-based approach that offers practical urban planning and architecture design solutions to support healthy communities. Active Design elements—such as stairs, supportive walking and biking infrastructure, and on-site exercise facilities—can help transform the built environment and improve the physical and mental health outcomes for residents, especially those living in affordable housing. To help integrate cost-effective Active Design strategies into affordable housing, the Active Design Verified (ADV) initiative was created to train developers on incorporating design elements and amenities that will promote health.

The policy brief reviews findings from a pilot study in the Bronx that suggests Active Design elements have improved residents’ health. It also evaluates the impact of Active Design strategies on a newly constructed development in Brownsville, Brooklyn (an NYSHealth Healthy Neighborhoods Fund site), that is the first multifamily affordable housing site to achieve ADV recognition. Finally, policy recommendations for adopting Active Design and other healthy affordable housing initiatives are included.

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