A more vigorously health-driven transit-oriented development (TOD) initiative in the Quitman neighborhood of Houston would have a positive impact on health by preventing or slowing the onset of preventable diseases such as obesity and heart disease, according to a new report from Texas Southern University, Houston Tomorrow, Baylor College of Medicine, and Andress & Associates.
A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of Transit-Oriented Development at the Quitman Light Rail Station in Houston, Texas: Final Report analyzes the potential health impacts of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) for the current and future residents of the station-area neighborhood. It is the first HIA in Houston.
The preliminary findings of the HIA are that TOD would also result in additional health benefits related to improved access to health care, better opportunities for education and employment, and a reduction in overall neighborhood crime.
Awareness is increasing among scholars and public officials about the links between the built environment and health. In particular, studies have found that walkable communities, designed to encourage walking, biking, and transit, are generally beneficial for individual and community health.
This HIA was completed by a research team that included individuals from Texas Southern University, Houston Tomorrow, Baylor College of Medicine, and Andress & Associates, with expertise in urban planning, transportation, policy, advocacy, health, and social and economic equity.
Supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, it is one of the first HIAs completed in Texas.
The team used the HIA process, which is described in detail in the full report, to evaluate impacts of key health-related TOD indicators—walkability, affordable housing, parks and trails, and mixed-use development. Representatives of neighborhood stakeholder groups contributed input throughout the study.
The study, which aggregated existing and new data, finds that the HIA process is a useful tool to help prioritize the recommendations of various public policy initiatives in order to most effectively maximize the long-term health and vitality of a community, particularly in light of scare resources